Making the call: An exploration of principal decision-making and autonomy in a Queensland state school context

Doctorate other than PhD


Ionn, Mark A.. 2023. Making the call: An exploration of principal decision-making and autonomy in a Queensland state school context. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Education . University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/z6223
Title

Making the call: An exploration of principal decision-making and autonomy in a Queensland state school context

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorsIonn, Mark A.
Supervisor
1. FirstA/Pr Joan Conway
2. SecondDr Susan Carter
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Education
Number of Pages252
Year2023
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/z6223
Abstract

In the face of unprecedented pressures, stressors, and complex demands, principals and school leaders make a vast number of decisions on behalf of the students and communities they lead, as an inherent feature of leadership. This study originated from the researcher’s own sense-making as a school principal for over twenty years and reveals what Loyens and Maesschalck (2010) referred to as opening the black box of decision-making, using ethnographic methodology to explore how decisions are made, describing the decision-making processes, and exploring the impact of decisions leaders undertake to make the call. Principal autonomy, although widely acknowledged as essential in decision-making, remains ambiguous and largely under researched in terms of how it is actually implemented and effectively used with fidelity. With a focus on school leadership in the Queensland state schooling sector, this study explored the lived experiences of two principals and a focus group of school leaders, as well as incorporating the researcher’s own decision-making journey through autoethnography. Weick’s (1995) sense-making theory was used to conceptualise what’s really occurring for principals. Cooksey’s (2000) Complex Dynamic Decision-making Perspective was adapted and used as a way of structuring the data for thematic analysis and as an organiser of influences on decision-making. Three recommendations are made as a result of the study: (a) that principals need to have clarity on a defined model of autonomy to create successful and balanced decisions; (b) that decision-making is an essential skill for leadership and requires planned, ongoing support for principals and school leaders; and (c) that principals need opportunities to grow as professionals in a trusting, safe space, with a supportive broad spectrum of supervision.

KeywordsAutonomy; supervision; role complexity; sense-making; decision-making; leadership
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390403. Educational administration, management and leadership
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author/creator.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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