Unseen forces: The impact of social culture on school leadership

Philip Hallinger, Kenneth Leithwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of the global era has raised the ante on cross-cultural understanding. Although education has been a traditional means of cross-cultural transmission, relatively little effort to date has gone into understanding how culture influences the content or processes of educational practice. Internationally disseminated theories of educational leadership have been dominated by Western cultural and intellectual frameworks and have ignored a range of other frameworks. It is time to open up our thinking about theories and methods of organizing and administering education throughout the world. There are potential benefits to theory as well as to practice in widening the cultural and intellectual lenses being used in the field. Our purpose in this article is to understand how one might begin to explore educational leadership concepts and practices across cultures. We discuss how culture has been studied in fields of management outside of education. Then we examine the role that a cultural lens could play in our thinking about educational leadership and argue that the notion of societal culture will enrich both theory and practice in the field. Finally, we raise some questions for future research that arise from looking at educational leadership within a cultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-151
Number of pages26
JournalPeabody Journal of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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