Leading learning in Asia: Emerging empirical insights from five societies

Philip HALLINGER, Allan David WALKER

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to synthesize findings from studies of principal instructional leadership conducted in five East Asian societies. The authors first identify similarities and then differences in approaches to instructional leadership across the societies. Then the findings of the synthesis are compared with broad findings from the global literature on principal instructional leadership. Design/methodology/approach: The paper employs a thematic approach to synthesizing findings from the five qualitative studies. Findings: The authors identified numerous similarities in practices of instructional leadership across the five societies. These included first, a top-down approach to defining the mission and goals of schools whereby principals worked within a fairly narrow zone of discretion. Second, principals devoted relatively little attention to coordinating the curriculum due to working within strict national curriculum frameworks. Third, principals executed their instructional leadership practices with an ever-present sense of the need to honor hierarchical relations and maintain harmony among staff and other stakeholders. Differences across the five societies centered on the extent to which the instructional leadership role of principals was explicitly defined and the extent to which they received training for the role. Originality/value: This synthesis sought to build upon reviews of research published in a special issue of this journal two years ago. The synthesis and this body of research papers have contributed toward moving empirical research on educational leadership broadly, and instructional leadership in particular, forward in East Asia. Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-146
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number2
Early online dateApr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Hallinger, P., & Walker, A. (2017). Leading learning in Asia: Emerging empirical insights from five societies. Journal of Educational Administration, 55(2), 130-146.


  • Principals
  • Leadership
  • Asia
  • Instructional leadership


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