Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 257–273 | Cite as

Leading authentically at the cross-roads of culture and context

  • Allan Walker
Original Paper


This article explores the difficulties Hong Kong school leaders face in leading authentically and suggests that a key to seeking this authenticity lies in ongoing learning in context. It is divided into three sections. The first section describes the crossroads of reform and culture in Hong Kong schools by illustrating the tension between traditional values and modern reform demands. It concludes that the environment within which Hong Kong leaders lead is best characterized by hybridity and that this makes becoming authentic both important and difficult. The second section asserts that being an authentic leader is not a matter of adopting a model, a series of actions or even a set of beliefs, but is about engaging in a continual learning process. Some of what we know about leadership learning is discussed, as is the importance of accounting for cultural variation when designing learning approaches. The third section outlines and describes a set of generic leadership learning gateways designed to guide the development of authenticity. These gateways underpin a new programme implemented in Hong Kong which consciously aims to allow principals to construct authenticity.


Leadership learning Culture Hong Kong Reform Authentic leadership 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Administration and PolicyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatin, New TerritoriesHong Kong SAR, The People’s Republic of China

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