Exploring middle leadership and its effective practices: Case studies in early childhood education in Chengdu, China

Pan HE

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


This study aims to explore the perceptions from educational practitioners on middle leadership, its effective practices and the influential sociocultural factors in early childhood education in China.

Qualitative research method was used in this study. Data were collected from kindergarten principals, curriculum coordinators, logistics coordinators and teachers in 5 Band One kindergartens in Chengdu to explore perceptions of middle leadership and effective practices of middle leadership. Metaphors and semi-structured, individual and group interviews, and documents were the major data collection methods. Data analysis followed Miles and Huberman’s framework (1994).

The study’s findings show that middle leadership was perceived as teacher developer, competent co-worker, mediator, teacher influencer, teacher’s work controller and resource carrier. Four categories of effective practices emerged: chengshang qixia, understanding and developing teachers, building collegiality and building a half-mentor half-friend relationship with teachers. Collectivism, the Golden Mean and moral modelling were main sociocultural factors influencing middle leadership in ECE in the Chinese context.

Main findings of this study were discussed with the contextual factors: collectivism, the Golden Mean and moral modelling. This study conceptualized middle leadership as cultural and context-based phenomenon. Implications are raised for middle leadership in ECE in China, middle leadership research, and contextualised middle leadership. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • LU, Jiafang 陸佳芳, Supervisor
  • QIAN, Haiyan 錢海燕, Supervisor
  • HO, Choi Wa Dora, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2021.


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