While educational leadership and management has experienced impressive development over the last three decades the fact that a robust comparative branch of the field has failed to emerge is equally conspicuous. This article builds a case for comparative and international educational leadership and management, arguing that the development of conceptual frameworks and instrumentation are imperative if the field is to keep abreast of globalisation of policy and practice. Accordingly, a conceptual framework is described and justified based on a cultural and cross-cultural approach focusing on the school level as the baseline unit for analysis. Specifically, the proposed framework is architectured around the interrelationship between two levels of culture, societal and organisational, and four elements comprising schooling and school-based management, namely, organisational structures, leadership and management processes, curriculum, and teaching and learning. Finally, limitations and implications of the model are discussed, including the need for the framework to be operationalised by developing appropriate research instruments. Copyright © 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd.