New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 297–313 | Cite as

Keeping Things on Track: School Principals as Managers

  • Kerry Earl RinehartEmail author
  • Noeline Alcorn


Literature about education in New Zealand and internationally over the past 30 years has increasingly focused on the need for effective school leadership. In New Zealand a major Best Evidence Synthesis study (BES 2009) led to an emphasis on instructional leadership aimed at raising achievement. This emphasis has tended to undervalue management, linked to the status quo rather than change and improvement. However, extended interviews with rural primary principals revealed they saw management as crucial to responding to parental concerns, handling disruption, and keeping the school ‘on track’. Making use of local knowledge and taking advice, they held the core responsibility for an observable response. These principals believed that managing issues helped them build and sustain the trust of the school community, which was of value ‘next time’. Thus, aspects of management combine the relational and context-dependent work of school principals. Drawing on Mintzberg (1990) we argue that the recognition and valuing of management aspect of school leadership is crucial for principal effectiveness.


Management School principals Community expectations Disruption 



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Copyright information

© New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of EducationUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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