Beginning principals: Balancing at the top of the greasy pole

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75 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This article aims to set the scene for this Special Issue on beginning principals and to inform one's understanding of how new principals manage their work lives to make a difference in their schools.

Design/methodology/approach - Based on recent literature on beginning principals, the paper draws together and analyses issues encompassing principals' formal preparation, recruitment, licensure and socialisation.

Findings - This article outlines the broader context that frames the lives of beginning principals across societies. It does this through focusing on three fairly general topics: the current expectations of principals and potential principals, which also touches on a shortage of principal candidates in some societies; the life of beginning principals, including strategies suggested by research for “surviving” those hectic first years; and issues related to principals' preparation and learning. These topics encapsulate the focuses of the articles that follow.

Originality/value - The paper contributes to the understanding that the quest for beginning principalship cannot be restricted by national or societal borders; it is one that calls for greater international cooperation and insight. Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-309
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2006


Walker, A., & Qian, H. (2006). Beginning principals: balancing at the top of the greasy pole. Journal of Educational Administration, 44(4), 297-309. doi: 10.1108/09578230610674921


  • Principals
  • Expectation


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