China: Research on Chinese principals and their work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


This review paper synthesises and critiques the research on Chinese school principalship published in Chinese journals between 2008 and 2013. The purpose is to provide an up-to-date snapshot of school principals in mainland China and to examine how the policy context since 2008 has shaped and changed principals’ work. The review identified 153 usable papers, of which only 17 were deemed empirical in nature. Compared with our earlier review conducted in 2012, this paper identified some enduring patterns and new trends. For example, nonempirical research still dominated the Chinese literature on school principalship. Prescription and commentary endured as the core patterns of nonempirical papers, whilst an emerging pattern was experience sharing. The results of this review have a number of important implications for our understanding of the relationships amongst Chinese principalship, the international knowledge base and the national reform context. The review also raises some questions that are worthy of further exploration to contribute to the expansion of the knowledge base of Chinese school principalship. Copyright © 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDecade of research on school principals: Cases from 24 countries
EditorsHelene ARLESTIG, Christopher DAY, Olof JOHANSSON
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN (Print)9783319230269, 9783319230276
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Qian, H., Walker, A., & Zheng, Y. (2016). China: Research on Chinese principals and their work. In H. Ärlestig, C. Day, & O. Johansson (Eds.), Decade of research on school principals: Cases from 24 countries (pp. 331-355). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.


  • Transformational leadership
  • School principal
  • Curriculum reform
  • Early review
  • Chinese literature


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