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Distributed leadership: A scoping review mapping current empirical research

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-10, 12:57 authored by Niamh Hickey, Aishling Flaherty, Patricia Mannix McNamara
Distributed leadership has enjoyed increased popularity, becoming a prevalent model of school leadership. The focus of distributed leadership is to foster shared leadership practices thereby enhancing school culture and practice. Despite multiple literature reviews that sought to yield greater understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of distributed leadership, there is little focus on empirical research on distributed leadership in post-primary schools. Therefore, this article reports on a scoping review of 39 empirical studies on distributed leadership in post-primary schools. The studies were analysed to identify the main trends of this body of research and to offer implications for future research. The main trends of this research corpus include the typical methodologies used, the common theoretical constructs which distributed leadership is studied in respect of, the most common distributed leadership theoretical framework subscribed to by research, and variances in understanding of distributed leadership. The authors offer future research implications for distributed leadership in post-primary schools. The results of this review lead us to conclude that there is a need for greater rigor in distributed leadership research. Future research is suggested regarding perceptions of distributed leadership, its relationship with policy, wellbeing, and female leadership, and the culture required for distributed leadership to flourish.


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