Educating twenty-first-century school leaders: Learning from MBA programmes


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


The current focus on school leader preparation reflects the importance societies around the world are placing upon the goal of improving their educational systems. The investment of substantial new resources into leadership preparation and development activities is based upon the belief that school leaders make a difference in both the effectiveness and efficiency of schooling. Developing school leaders who do make a difference, however, requires a management curriculum that is relevant to schools, up-to –date in learning methods, and which draws upon knowledge from disciplines inside and outside of education. This chapter examines the implications that curricular trends in the development of business leaders may have for leadership preparation and development in education. The authors acknowledge, at the outset, that some differences in the content of preparation programmes. At the same time, we argue for an integration of selected business-related understanding of organizational management that are highly relevant for the improvement of schools. Leadership in the field of education has had a long and ambivalent relationship with the world of business management, dating back to the early and mid-twentieth century in the USA, education scholars such as Elwood Cubberly were strongly influenced by the end of ‘scientific management’ that prevailed in the business community (Tyack and Hansot, 1982). Reaction against the idea that education should be managed ‘as a business’ was aptly captured in the 1960s by Raymond Callahan’s (1962) book Education and the Cult of Efficiency. Since the 1960s, this pendulum has swung back and forth several more times as schools have sought to come to terms with periodic calls for schools to be managed more efficiently and effectively. Inevitably, hen these calls issue forth, business management is once again posed as a model for the management of schools. Corporate members of the ‘Business Roundtables’ scratch their heads, asking, ‘Why can’t they be more like us?’ We reject the idea that school management should simply copy the management of business firms. Indeed, if there is a single lesson that holds true from the management literature of the past century, it is that context makes a difference in the management of organizations. Beginning with this conclusion in mind, this chapter does not attempt to redefine the field of education management in the image of the business sector. Our goal is more modes and, we trust, realistic. The chapter examines recent trends in the business leadership curriculum and discusses the implications for preparing school managers. The perspectives that shape this chapter blend multiple points of view. These are drawn from the authors’ contrasting experience in the practice of business management and education management, as well as our joint experience in the preparation and development of business and education managers. The chapter is divided into three sections. The first section provides a brief overview of the context and goals of management education in the business sector. The second section, comprising the body of the chapter, focuses on selected domains of the curriculum n business preparation programmes. In the final section, we discuss the implications for the design of preparation and development programmes in educational leadership and management. Copyright © 2013 SAGE.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrinciples of school leadership
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781446201459, 9781446201442, 1446201449, 1446201457
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Hallinger, P., & Snidvongs, K. (2013). Educating twenty-first-century school leaders: Learning from MBA programmes. In M. Brundrett (Ed.), Principles of school leadership (pp. 173-188). London: SAGE.


  • Management education
  • Customer relationship management
  • Project management
  • Business management
  • Leadership and management
  • Business education
  • Schools


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