A Distributed Perspective on Instructional Leadership in International Baccalaureate (IB) Schools

Moosung Lee, Philip Hallinger, Allan Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to provide a better understanding of how instructional leadership responsibilities are distributed in International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in East Asia. Research Design: Case studies were conducted in five international schools located in Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China. These schools were selected on the basis of location in East Asia, the offering of the full continuum of the IB's three programs, and evidence of prior academic success. In total, 68 teachers and administrators and 25 students were interviewed. Qualitative analysis of the interview data was conducted using pattern coding. Findings: Three broad instructional leadership practices were identified: curriculum articulation, cross-program activities, and strategic staffing. These appeared to enhance curriculum consistency and coherence across the three IB programs, a problem that had been identified in full-continuum IB schools. The qualitative data suggested that distributed instructional leadership forged and sustained professional interactions among staff across programs and organizational units. Conclusions: IB schools globally are often structurally separated into two or three organizational units (e.g., primary, middle, high school). These units operate IB programs that, despite their common origin and international philosophy, employ distinct pedagogical and curricular approaches. The findings reinforce the importance of acting intentionally to distribute responsibilities for instructional leadership widely throughout the school. They also support the assertion that international schools offer a unique and fruitful context for studying distributed instructional leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-698
Number of pages35
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • IB schools
  • curriculum implementation
  • distributed leadership
  • instructional leadership
  • program transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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