Leading as state agents: Narratives of Shanghai principals

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explores how neoliberal educational reforms have shaped the work lives of school principals in China and how Chinese principals have located themselves in relation to the two domains of the lifeworld and systemsworld in their schools. Using narratives collected from three high school principals in Shanghai, the chapter illustrates that Chinese schools, like their Western counterparts, face the challenges of an invading systemic power flowing from the state and the market. All three principals feel under pressure to meet the systemic expectations imposed on their schools. However, what makes the situation that Chinese principals face quite distinct is the strong presence of the state and relatively muted role of the market. The primary role of a school principal in China is as an agent of the state. Copyright © 2016 Simon Clarke and Tom O’Donoghue.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSchool leadership in diverse contexts
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
ISBN (Electronic)9781315745633
ISBN (Print)9781138817319, 9781138817326
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Qian, H., & Walker, A. (2016). Leading as state agents: Narratives of Shanghai principals. In S. Clarke & T. O'Donoghue (Eds), School leadership in diverse contexts (pp. 153-171). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


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