Research Article 3

Investigating the leadership styles and organisational effectiveness of middle management in an international school context.

 Mark Atkinson

University of Leicester



This study aims to investigate leadership within mid-level management by exploring the leadership styles, management and organisational effectiveness of department leaders, in a bid to reform leadership within an international institution in Vietnam. This study is intent on providing a clear framework that will aim to reform mid-level leadership and management, develop a positive team culture within the organisation and, offer recommendations and resources to department leaders that will support the needs of practitioners. Participants included 1 senior leader (male: age 48 and British), 6 department leaders (4 male and 2 female: age range 32 to 44 and British) and 20 practitioners (6 male and 14 female, of which, 16 are British and 4 are Vietnamese: age range 25 – 40). Data was obtained using a mixed methods approach combining qualitative and quantitative tools, consisting of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to collate contextual and subjective data based on the views and feelings of practitioners in relation to leadership within the institution. The data suggests that practitioners felt that a transactional leadership style was most associated to middle management, in which leader/follower relations are closely linked to supervision and driven by exchanges of reward or punishment, whilst members of middle management perceived their own leadership style to be most associated with a transformation leadership style, a style of leadership driven by inspiring and visionary traits. The leadership style least associated with the leadership styles of middle management was authentic leadership, demonstrating only a small number of honest relations and only a few examples of ethical practice. This study confirms the need for authentic, process relational leadership, intent on providing support to teachers and learners throughout the institution. Otherwise, if leaders persist with transactional leadership models, closely linked to the ‘systems control’ approaches identified by Watson, (2005), institutional relationships will continue to deteriorate, staff retention will worsen and teaching and learning will begin to flounder (p.2).

Key words: International education, Vietnam, Educational leadership, Authentic leadership, Transactional leadership, Transformational leadership, Distributed leadership, Middle leadership.

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