A systematic review of research on educational leadership in Hong Kong, 1995-2014

Sing Ying Elson SZETO, Tai Hoi Theodore LEE, Philip HALLINGER

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a research synthesis of substantive findings drawn from studies of educational leadership and management in Hong Kong between 1995 and 2014. The goal of the research synthesis was to identify and elaborate on key trends identified by scholars who studied educational leadership in Hong Kong over the past two decades. The synthesis drew upon on relevant articles published in eight “core international journals” specializing in educational leadership and management.
Design/methodology/approach– The study first identifies a clearly delimited body of relevant literature comprised of empirical, non-empirical and review/synthesis types of studies in a total of 161 published research articles from the eight journals. Information concerning the nature of the studies as well as substantive findings was extracted from each of the articles. The findings were then initially coded in preparation for data analysis. Synthesis of substantive findings was accomplished by cross-article comparative mapping aimed at identifying key themes in the literature. Findings within four of the most robust themes were then synthesized and reported.
Findings – The synthesis highlights the challenges faced in Hong Kong’s efforts to reshape its education in a multi-faceted quest for quality education in the twenty-first century. A variety of inter-related issues emerged as policymakers and education administrators sought to implement a full plate of imported globally recognized education reforms. Analysis of the research from this period yielded four robust themes: “leadership development,” “leadership for learning,” “organizational change,” “multi-level performance focus.” The findings also further highlight the impact of “education policy borrowing” on system-level efforts to revamp the structural conditions in which school leaders operate and reshape managerial, as well as teaching and learning processes in schools.
Research limitations/implications – Although the scope of the sources included in the review are highly representative of the “Hong Kong literature” of the past two decades, the authors note that it was not an “exhaustive” review of all potential sources.
Originality/value – Prior research by Hallinger and Bryant (2013b) had identified Hong Kong as having produced the largest volume of literature in educational leadership and management in Asia. This paper represents the first systematic review of research findings that emerged in the recent educational leadership literature produced in Hong Kong. Therefore, although the authors make no claims of generalizability to other parts of Asia or even to China as a whole, the paper offers insight into how global trends have reshaped the practice of educational leadership in one East Asian society. Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-553
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number4
Early online date06 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Szeto, E., Lee, T. T. H., & Hallinger, P. (2015). A systematic review of research on educational leadership in Hong Kong, 1995-2014. Journal of Educational Administration, 53(4), 534-553. doi: 10.1108/JEA-03-2015-0027


  • Leadership development
  • Leadership
  • Educational administration
  • Developing countries
  • Administration
  • Culture techniques


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