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An Educational Leadership Framework Based on Traditional and Contemporary Leadership Theories

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leadership theories

E-Leader Kuala Lumpur, 2009

1

An Educational Leadership Framework Based

on Traditional and Contemporary Leadership Theories

Dr. Cheong Sing Tng

Accounting and Finance, School of Business

Monash University

Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Abstract

With fundamental social changes in the knowledge economy, there is growing tension between fundamentalism and

cosmopolitanism reflecting conflict between universal rules and diversity respectively. Globalization encourages

diversity and a Western cultural bias for heroic leadership. In response to excessive risk-taking by heroic corporate

leaders causing disturbances to financial markets, western economies use legislation while Asian economies adjust

their legal infrastructures to adopt Western regulatory frameworks. However, legislation is similar to standardization

and a solution to this biased corporate environment is education of business leaders on superiority of diversity over

standardization and shared over heroic leadership.

Keywords: Business school, globalization, innovation, teacher leadership, transnational university

Introduction

Leadership research created a vast body of literature classified using various approaches. A plausible classification

considers traditional and contemporary theories. Traditional theories comprise of early seminal studies on specific

types of determinants for effective leadership while contemporary ones integrate many categories of determinants

from early research. After reviewing traditional and contemporary leadership theories relevant for educational

leadership, this paper selects essential features from the theories to derive a Personal Leadership Framework (PLF)

applicable to university lecturers.

After next section's description of the context for this study, section 3 reviews leadership literature to identify

relevant features for university academics. Section 4 applies these features in the author's school to derive the PLF

before the last section concludes with recommendation.

1 Background to this study

The author was a lecturer at Monash University Sunway Campus School of Business in Malaysia, where he taught

undergraduate accounting and finance units. Besides teaching, he was an assistant coordinator of the school's

accounting and finance department as well as coordinator of the work placement program. He wrote this paper after

studying the nature of his work and the roles of 13 faculty staff who were departmental coordinators or professors

shouldering leadership responsibilities in the school's six academic departments: accounting and finance, business

law and taxation, econometrics and business statistics, economics, management as well as marketing. Among the six

departmental coordinators, there were five senior lecturers and one professor. Besides the professor who was

accounting and finance coordinator, there were seven other associate or full professors: two in finance, one in

econometrics, one in economics, two in management plus the Head of School. The Head of School and one

management professor are Australian and British expatriates respectively while other academics in the sample are

Asians. This predominantly Asian sample of senior academicians from the Malaysian campus of an Australian

transnational university provided a case study of a Western institution of higher education in an Asian context.

2 Classification of leadership literature

With several thousand empirical studies on leadership mostly having inconsistent results (Yukl 2006), the literature

review in this section is not comprehensive, but representative of major research approaches. Section 3.1 reviews the

traditional trait, behavioural and situational approaches for studying leadership before section 3.2 presents

contemporary transformational, strategic, educative and organizational leadership. As these approaches do not

consider teacher leaders directly, section 3.3 reviews teacher leadership literature.

E-Leader Kuala Lumpur, 2009

2

2.1 Traditional leadership theories

Gorton, Alston and Snowden (2007, p. 8) identified trait, behavioural and contingency as seminal research

approaches relevant to educational administration.

2.1.1 Trait approach

Leadership research started around 1940s with trait studies on attributes of natural leaders focusing on their

personalities, motives, values and skills, but the studies could not discover universal traits for leadership success.

For a synthesis of literature during that period, Stogdill (1948) observed leaders displaying some advantageous

managerial traits over non-leaders, but none of these traits were clearly superior.

2.1.2 Behavioral approach

Lack of success with the trait approach led to examination of leadership behaviour from the 1950s, which produced

various

...

...

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