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Distributed leadership through the lens of Activity Theory
Distributed leadership
Activity Theory
Issue Date: 
Ho, J., Chen, V. & Ng, D. (2016). Distributed leadership through the lens of Activity Theory. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 44(5), 814-836.
Purpose: Using Activity Theory as an interpretive lens to examine the distribution of leadership, this paper shares a case study on how leadership for an ICT project was distributed in a Singapore school. Method: The case study involved observations of 49 meetings and 34 interviews of leaders and the teachers who were involved in the ICT project. Findings: Applying the lens of 3rd generation Activity Theory helped to surface two main interrelated activity systems, and the leadership actions performed by senior and middle management. The two activity systems comprised the school and the ICT project. The focus in Activity Theory on the social-cultural perspective highlighted the role played by social norms in mediating the leadership activity. Implications for future research: The conclusion focuses on the understanding of distributed leadership as analysed through the lens of Activity Theory and suggests future research directions. Activity Theory enables research on distributed leadership to identify and examine interrelated activity systems that various leaders are involved in, and how these impact the leadership provided.
This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in Educational Management Administration & Leadership. The published version is available online at
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checked on Feb 16, 2019


checked on Feb 16, 2019