Leadership for learning: Lessons from 40 years of empirical research


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Purpose - This paper aims to present a research-based model of leadership for learning. It argues that the field has made substantial progress over the past 40 years in identifying ways in which leadership contributes to learning and school improvement. Four specific dimensions of leading for learning are presented: values and beliefs, leadership focus, contexts for leadership, sharing leadership. Design/methodology/approach - The paper employs a review methodology but focuses especially on evidence from several recent empirical studies. While the Author argues that progress has been made, limitations especially with respect to linking leadership practice to different contexts are noted. Findings - The paper finds that significant progress has been made in identifying the means by which leadership impacts learning. Research limitations/implications - The key limitation in this research lies in the difficulty in linking leadership to its context. While progress is beginning to be made in this area as well, it remains a limiting factor in interpreting the findings from this body of research. Practical implications - The above limitation means that individual school leaders must still apply the findings both with caution and with an understanding of their own particular school context. Originality/value - The paper extends prior reviews by its inclusion of findings from a series of important studies that have emerged since 2008. Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. The journal web site is located at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=jea
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Hallinger, P. (2011). Leadership for learning: Lessons from 40 years of empirical research. Journal of Educational Administration, 49(2), 125-142.


  • Schools
  • Change management
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Organizational change
  • Principals


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