The principal and curriculum change: A Hong Kong case study

David Robert CARLESS, Clive DIMMOCK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This paper presents a case study of a Hong Kong primary school undergoing curriculum change and the role of the principal in that process. Its justification as a case study rests on the weak existing knowledge base of such studies in Asian settings; the mix of Chinese and Western cultures which characterize Hong Kong; and the principal as an enthusiastic change agent who puts the school at the forefront of restructuring in primary education in Hong Kong. Qualitative methods involving inductive analysis of the case school were employed to address five research questions aimed at eliciting the principal's role in curriculum reform. The findings reveal that many sources of change coalesce to yield multiple innovations that are managed simultaneously; that the principal is primarily an instructional and transformational leader; and that values is placed on staff development through a collaborative culture. While the principal eagerly embraces many of the reforms, most of which emanate from Western (Anglo-American) system below the apparent surface harmony are feelings of tension among the teachers. While they feel means innovation overload, the respect for hierarchy and seniority so characteristic of Chinese culture means that they feel unable to approach the principal. The study thus explores the phenomenon of a Hong Kong Chinese principal adopting 'Western-style' reforms while implementing them in ways reflecting her Chinese culture. Copyright © 2001 Routledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-44
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


Carless, D., & Dimmock, C. (2001). The principal and curriculum change: A Hong Kong case study. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 21(1), 30-44.


Dive into the research topics of 'The principal and curriculum change: A Hong Kong case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.