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Tan, Charlene
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This study addresses a critical and under-researched area of middle leaders like department heads in Singapore; specifically, how they negotiate their roles as distributed leaders. This is a qualitative, phenomenological study, where semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were used to generate useful data for the study. This phenomenological study provides insights into the experiences and beliefs about department head leadership and what they consider important about their roles to support school improvement. The line of inquiry focuses on (a) the leadership activities, (b) the parties involved in leadership activities to understand the “leader-plus” aspect of distributed leadership, (c) the trigger of sense-making, and (d) the sense-making process that the department heads go through. This study used both the distributed and sense-making perspective as the theoretical framework to analyse, discuss, and share the implications. Findings from this study show how the “leader-plus” and “practice” aspects of distributed leadership are played out in the Asian-influenced socio-cultural setting of Singapore’s primary schools. Distributed leadership is not about flattening the Asian hierarchical structure. Instead, it places a greater demand on those in leadership appointments to coordinate performance, build capacity across the organisation, and monitor and provide feedback on leadership tasks. Thus, this study contributes to the existing literature on contextual and cultural influences on distributed leadership in Singapore’s primary schools and other similar Asian education systems. This study suggests a coordinated “divide and conquer” mode of operation to allow leadership to be more widely distributed to meet the standards of efficiency and effectiveness in Singapore’s public service. The implications for practice from this study show how Singapore’s schools can better reap the benefits of the leader-plus and practice aspects of distributed leadership.
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LB2806 Leo
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Appears in Collections:Doctor in Education (Ed.D.)

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