Comparing Chinese and Canadian transformational school leadership: A cultural analysis

Peng LIU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Although Leithwood’s (1999) model of Transformational School leadership (TSL) is arguably the most influential model of its kind in the North American context, it is relatively unknown here in China. In addition, little research into the applicability of this model has been carried out specifically with regard to the potential differences between the Chinese and North American educational contexts. Therefore, the purpose of this article is (i) to outline a tentative basis for a discussion of TSL in the Chinese educational context, and (ii) to discuss areas of potential cultural dissimilarity. In order to provide a bicultural basis for a discussion of TSL, this paper will first outline Leithwood’s set of 29 effective leadership principles. Second, 12 practices will be identified as potentially useful for cross-cultural comparison, and a further 17 practices will be elaborated as principally applicable to the Chinese educational context. Third, a tentative framework is suggested in which TSL practices may be effectively categorized. This tentative framework will draw on similar leadership principles and practices culled from other comparative educational models of TSL (Hofstede, 2001; Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck, 1961; Sagiv & Schwartz, 2000; Schwartz, 2000; Trompenaars, 1993). Some of the principles and practices considered relate to the following dimensions of TSL: 1) long- or short-term implementation; 2) environmental impact 3) time orientation 4) performance appraisals, 5) intellectual autonomy 6) individualism and collectivism 7) power distance beliefs 8) beliefs about human nature, and 9) human orientation. This presentation seeks both to provide a basis for a discussion of TSL in the Chinese context and to identify effective TSL practices cross-culturally.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


cultural analysis
intercultural comparison
environmental impact


Liu, P. (2014, February). Comparing Chinese and Canadian transformational school leadership: A cultural analysis. Paper presented at the Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong (CESHK) Annual Conference 2014: Policy and educational development in a global context, HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education, China.