Book Chapter

International school principals in Malaysia: Local and global factors impacting on leadership


This chapter examines the ways in which global considerations and local pressures intersect in the construction of the role of the principal by leaders of international schools in Malaysia. Charting the rapid expansion of international schools in Malaysia, it is argued that this growing sector merits more research attention, in particular research that acknowledges the ways in which international school headship here may differ from other cultural and political contexts. Drawing on a qualitative study of 12 international school principals, the chapter considers ways in which global factors influence Malaysian international school headship, including transience within the international school sector; the marketisation of education; the expectations attendant with international accreditation and assessments; and the loneliness of the principal’s role. Alongside this, the chapter examines the ways in which the principals discussed factors impacting on their role that are specific to international headship in Malaysia, in particular issues related to the national culture and the multi-ethnic nature of Malaysian society. It also highlights the impact on these principals of governance models that predominate in Malaysian international schools, specifically the rapid growth of for-profit and chain-ownership schools. A framework of organisational, cultural and contextual factors is proposed for conceptualising how international leadership is influenced by national setting. The chapter suggests that there are aspects of international school headship that are particular to Malaysia, but that these are enacted with a global backdrop.

Attached files


Bailey, Lucy
Gibson, Mark T.

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Education


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-07-03

"This is the accepted manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in School leadership in Malaysia on 30 Nov. 2021."

Related resources

This RADAR resource is Part of School Leadership in Malaysia [ISBN: 9780367566074] / edited by Tony Bush (Routledge, 2021).


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