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646.full - Educational Management Administration Leadership...

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http://ema.sagepub.com/ Administration & Leadership Educational Management http://ema.sagepub.com/content/39/6/646 The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/1741143211416390 2011 39: 646 Educational Management Administration & Leadership Karen Starr Principals and the Politics of Resistance to Change Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society can be found at: Educational Management Administration & Leadership Additional services and information for http://ema.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://ema.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://ema.sagepub.com/content/39/6/646.refs.html Citations: What is This? - Nov 30, 2011 Version of Record >> by guest on February 19, 2012 ema.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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Article Principals and the Politics of Resistance to Change Karen Starr Abstract Governments hold principals accountable for leading and managing significant change for school improvement, primarily demonstrated through enhanced student test results. Research evidence suggests, however, that schools are slow to change, that many individuals are resistant to major change and that school reforms are often cursory or short lived. The stakes for principals to produce measurable improvements are rising, as are disincentives for failure. This article discusses the experiences of Australian principals overseeing major change in the context of rapid structural and policy reform. It focuses specifically on the micro-politics of resistance, through an exploration of principals’ experiences and perceptions about leading major change. The article closes with suggestions for future research and leadership practice. Keywords change, micro-politics, power, principals, resistance Introduction School principals are pivotal players in educational change and reform (Hargreaves and Fink, 2006), while successful principals are those who can demonstrate achievements that have required major change (Mulford et al., 2009). Despite the proliferation of literature on the topic, however, the process of change is still shrouded in mystery since obstacles and setbacks are the norm (Grey, 2005). For Australian principals this is a critical factor because increasingly performance appraisal is tied to measureable school improvement. It is not easy for organizations of any kind to change, but schools have particular characteristics that mitigate against major change (Evans, 1996; Hargreaves and Fink, 2006). The enormous com- plexity of schools, their numerous stakeholders with competing interests and conflicting ideolo- gies, constant policy change and political intervention, unfavourable media and political commentary (Reid, 2007), an increasingly diverse student population, and their busy, messy quo- tidian of expected and unexpected events, makes major change difficult and sometimes impossible to implement. These difficulties are exacerbated in the context of ongoing educational
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