Making sense of images of fact and fiction: A critical review of the knowledge base for school leadership in vietnam

Philip Hallinger, Allan Walker, Gian Tu Trung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review both international and domestic (i.e. Vietnameselanguage) journal articles and graduate theses and dissertations on educational leadership inVietnam. The review addresses two specific goals: first, to describe and critically assess the natureof the formal knowledge base on principal leadership in Vietnam, second, to synthesize findingsfrom the existing literature on principal leadership in Vietnam.Design/methodology/approach – The paper employed a method for conducting systematic reviewsof research. The authors conducted a detailed, exhaustive search for international and “local” papersfrom Vietnam, yielding 120 research sources. Information from these papers was extracted andevaluated prior to analysis. Data analysis included both quantitative description of the “reviewdatabase” as well as critical synthesis of substantive findings.Findings – The review supports and extends an earlier review which found that thepractice of educational leadership in Vietnam remains largely “invisible” to the internationalcommunity of scholars. The review also yielded a highly critical assessment of researchperspectives and methods used in the “local” Vietnamese studies which comprised the bulk of theauthors’ database. Synthesis of substantive findings highlighted the manner by whichorganizational, political, and socio-cultural forces in the Vietnamese context shapes the practice ofschool leadership.Research limitations/implications – First, qualitative studies are recommended that seek todescribe, in-depth, the enactment of leadership in the Vietnamese context. Second, broad-scale surveysof characteristics, attitudes, and beliefs of school leaders across Vietnam are warranted. Third, theauthors encourage graduate students and scholars studying school leadership in Vietnam to undertakea new generation of theory-informed studies that connect with the global literature.Practical implications – Due to the relatively weak nature of the existing knowledge base, theauthors were unable to identify specific implications for leadership practice. However, practicalimplications are identified for developing the research capacity needed to improve research quality inVietnam’s universities.Originality/value – This review is the first systematic review of educational leadership andmanagement conducted of the Vietnamese literature. Moreover, the authors suggest that the review isoriginal in its comprehensive coverage of both the local and international literature on educationalleadership in Vietnam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-466
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Administrators
  • Asia
  • Culture
  • Leadership
  • Principal
  • Review
  • Vietnam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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