Distributive Leadership: Hierarchical Hegemonies and Policy challenges in African Schools

Icarbord Tshabangu


The paper examined notions of distributed leadership against cultural antecedents in engendering creativity and democratic school contexts, particularly in Africa, based on educational policies. Because schools are widely regarded as critical repositories of social and moral values, the paper interrogated the feasibility of achieving liberal democratic and cosmopolitan societies under the limiting frame of largely authoritarian and hierarchically hegemonic school cultures where teachers and school leaders often exercise unquestioned authority. The study thus investigated educators’ perceptions on Distributed leadership, whose bedrock concentrates on the interactions rather than on actions of leaders and on the exercise of influence rather than authority, a concept which may engender a healthy culture of knowledge creation and sharing in a 21st century information age and a feature which is critical for learning institutions. Using an interpretive paradigm and critical discourse analysis, the study reviewed school organizational cultures through students’ poetry, 10 interviews on Namibian educators and 60 semi structured questionnaires on Zimbabwean and Tanzanian school principals and teachers. Students’ poetry showed the school contexts as functionalist and inhibitive to creativity and personal leadership development and this was further complemented by teachers’ accounts which noted that school leadership was largely undistributed and perceived as a preserve for the school principal. The study’s findings therefore noted immense cultural and structural challenges that continue to inhibit distributive leadership approaches thus impacting negatively on schools’ ability to adapt to change and thus limit schools capacity to contribute meaningfully to the hyped about national goals.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jse.v3i1.3029


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