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Educational Leadership

Educational Leadership
Ambiguity, Professionals and Managerialism

First Edition

January 2006 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This book explores the limits to rational management. The authors develop the idea of organizational irony as a central concept for analyzing and explaining management activity in a managerialist environment. Drawing on international research as well as their own extensive experience in educational organizations, the authors show that effectiveness is not necessarily the result of over-rationalistic approaches to educational management.

Focusing on school leadership and management, authors Eric Hoyle and Mike Wallace suggest that major reforms have had limited success because the changes introduced have diverted school staff from their core task of promoting student learning. The result is dissatisfaction, frustration, and stress. The authors use the ironic perspective to show how practitioners respond by mediating the reforms. They argue that a more temperate approach to leadership and management supported by wise policy-making can create structures that take the strain and reduce stress, encourage autonomy while accepting associated risks, and sponsor moderate experimentation and innovation emerging from communities of professional practice.

This book is essential reading for all concerned with improving education: advanced course students, leaders and managers, trainers, administrators, policy-makers and academics. It also offers insights for the study of public service and business organizations.

Introducing the Ironic Perspective
Endemic Ambiguities
The Preconditions Of Irony

The Ambiguities of Policy Implementation
From Management to Managerialism
A Solution in Search of a Problem
The Myth of Transformation
Transmissional Leadership for Political Transformation
Patterns of Ironic Response
The Ironic Orientation and Professional Practice
Temperate Leadership and Management
Living With Irony


`Educational Leadership is perhaps best viewed as a broad implementation assessment conducted by two scholars with long experience in both the scholarship on and practice of education. The breadth of scholarship appears in the exceptionally wide range of literatures informing their evaluation. The depth of practice is evident in the many interesting cases they site. And together, these lend their critical stance a very credible sense of plausibility and perhaps even wisdom' - David Lowery, Public Management Review

'Hoyle and Wallace illustrate with penetrating insight the perverse outcome of tightening management and leadership so much that it leads to three different forms, each with the same five characteristics, of what they call "managerialism": excessive micromanagement of schools in a sometimes futile and self-defeating quest for success' - Tim Brighouse, Times Educational Supplement

`This book is an excellent read about management and leadership in schools. Overall, I felt that this book makes a positive contribution to the debate about the impact of managerialism within public services. I liked the elements that made up the ironic orientation (scepticism, pragmatism and contingency), recognising them in my own experiences in Higher Education, and I liked the way in which the concept of irony was linked to some key concerns as well as positive practices. This is a book that I would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in leadership and management in schools, but given its broader application, I would also recommend the book to anyone interested in leadership and management in the public sector' - ESCalate

'Eric Hoyle and Mike Wallace are two of the best known writers on educational leadership and management. They have made very significant contributions to organisational theory and its application to education for four decades. This book's focus on ambiguity and irony provides a welcome and timely contrast to the rational assumptions and managerialism which underpin government policy and much academic writing in this field' - Professor Tony Bush, International Educational Leadership Centre, University of Lincoln

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 (pdf file 101kb)

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