Journal Article

Navigating the blurred lines between principalship and governance in international schools : leadership and the locus of ownership control


The number of international schools has increased significantly this century, with new schools predominately situated in Asia and the Middle East. This growth has also seen a shift from not-for-profit to for-profit education, and from such schools being primarily for children of expatriates to being mainly for host nation children.  New actors, such as global chains of international schools, have also entered the arena. This article explores the impact of the contemporary landscape on the professional relationship between international school principals and their governors/ owners, by drawing on a study of twelve international school principals in Malaysia. There were five emergent themes from the analysis: principal autonomy; ownership support; principal accountability; principal affective dissonance and the locus of control.  There were wide ranging levels of autonomy given to principals, significant support from owners in terms of financial backing for areas of development and methods of accountability that ranged from formal to informal. Principals seemingly had affective dissonance over working in for-profit schooling and there were issues surrounding the locus of ownership. There is little research in this area, particularly in Asia and this work appears to be the sole work that includes consideration of leadership in international school chains.

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Gibson, Mark T.
Bailey, Lucy

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Education


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-02-16

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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