Comparative case study of the principals leadership role in Virginia and in Hong Kong

Sharon Lynne BRYANT

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


This paper is based on research conducted with principals in Hong Kong which is a replication of a study conducted Virginia, United States of America (USA). The paper outlines the implementation of Quality Leadership strategies used by both sets of principals to restructure their schools in a changing society. Principals report their leadership role can no longer follow the traditional autocratic model. Both sets of principals are changing the strategies they use to manage their schools. Research on the implementation of Quality in education made the following observation even stronger evidence of Quality implementation existing at the school level. It is apparent that principle have attempted to change the way they relate to their staffs and manage their buildings. These principals have shared decision-making responsibilities with faculty and support staff through various means. Continued study is warranted to assess benefits to students as well as the role the principal plays in successful implementation. (Bryant, 1995) This case study research was conducted using qualitative methodology to study and compare the differences in the principal's leadership role in the United States and in Hong Kong in the implementation of the components of Quality as defined by the Virginia Department of Education, based on the XEROX Leadership Through Quality model. This case study research is based on extensive research conducted on principals in Virginia and reported by Bryant (1995). Data for Hong Kong was gathered through the use of the in-depth interview developed by Quality and methodological experts. The interviews were conducted on site. The findings include an analysis of the differences in the leadership roles between principals who participated in publicly funded TQM project in Virginia (CTQP) and in a similar School Management Initiative (SMI) Project funded by the Department of Education in Hong Kong. Initial findings indicate that the leadership of the principals in both settings rests on similar components. The seven Quality components are part of both cultures in the US and Hong Kong. Both cultures find that they had to work with teachers in more empowering ways. In Hong Kong principals seem to include fewer external customers in the decision making process. In the USA principals more frequently include parents and community groups in the decision-making process. Both sets of principals indicate it will take time and training to reach the ideal Quality culture. Total participation and empowering the individual to be responsible for decisions made related to the working environment seems to be one that will support systemic change (Bonstingl, 1992a; Juran, 1989; Kearnes, 1989; Rhodes, 1990a). According to Walkington (1991), when applied to an educational system all segments of the school community need to be involved in the shared decision-making process and need training to effective. In addition, many experts believe that true empowerment for site-based management in schools should mean a shift from centralized power in the principal to distributing real power to people who need to make decisions (e.g. teachers) (Byham, 1988; Glasser, 1990; Schlecthy, 1990; Sickler, 1988). However cautions Walkington (1991)," Shared decisions making takes time, trust, and hard work to implement." (p.23)) Initial results from Hong Kong principals also suggest that the implementation of Quality strategies had a beneficial effect on principals as they restructure their schools. This comparative research indicates that Quality strategies can be implemented in Hong Kong schools as well as in the US. Both groups are sharing decision-making, using teams, and working to restructure the school management style. As in any innovation the principal is the critical player. Teachers, staff, students, and community members need extensive and sensitive training for the Quality culture to develop. These findings suggest that to restructure schools in line with quality components will enable the culture of the school to be more in line with the need of society.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1996


Bryant, S. L. (1996, November). Comparative case study of the principals leadership role in Virginia and in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 13th Annual Conference: Restructuring Schools in Changing Societies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative case study of the principals leadership role in Virginia and in Hong Kong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.