A case study of leadership of kindergarten principals in Hong Kong

Wong, Tricia Kwok Sai (2006) A case study of leadership of kindergarten principals in Hong Kong. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Little attention has been paid to how kindergarten principals in Hong Kong enact their leadership and how their leadership is related to the gender of the principals and to the culture of the society. This study therefore aimed to document and explore how two kindergarten principals in Hong Kong conducted their leadership in respect of what they did, why they did so, and how they experienced their leadership, with a view to understanding the leadership conduct of these principals and to shedding light on the issues of women and the role of culture in school leadership.

Both participants were female. One of the leaders was the principal of a non profit-making kindergarten which had joined the government's subsidy scheme, and the other was a principal of a profit-making kindergarten that had not joined the scheme. A series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the principals along with observations of what they did on specific days as well as an analysis of documents the principals used in their work. Rich and thick data were obtained regarding what these principals did in leading staff to offer an education to children, and the beliefs, values and motives underlying their leadership. Both principals exercised strong and direct control over what to teach children, how teachers engaged in their teaching, and the activities designed to promote the kindergartens to the public to recruit children. They did so because of their beliefs about the importance of these matters for defining the kind of education to offer to children, their determination to lead well, and their perception of staff being insufficiently competent and motivated. Both exerted much less control on matters perceived as less important to enhancing the survival of the kindergartens. One of the principals was concerned about adverse effects of how staff viewed her leadership, which arose from the strong control she exercised. In light of her perception of the propriety of caring behaviour towards others in a kindergarten, she exhibited caring and teamwork behaviour aimed partly at minimising the adverse effects of her strong control. The other principal was not concerned about negative effects on staff of the strong and direct control she exercised, but still demonstrated a range of behaviour, including caring and teamwork behavior, to motivate staff to perform.

The findings show that these leaders considered a host of factors in enacting their leadership, and thus suggest that current theorizing of women in leadership needs to capture an extended range of complex factors that may influence how female leaders conduct and experience their leadership. In addition, the findings add to current theorizing about the motives underlying the enactment of leadership, in that control was enacted to conform to cultural expectations and to ensure adequate staff performance, while caring was enacted to minimize the adverse effects on staff of control or as means to motivate staff. The findings also show that the two leaders made active use of culture to influence staff, and experienced tensions coming from competing cultural values and norms. These are aspects that have not been addressed by current theorizing of the role of culture in school leadership.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

4,249 since deposited on 03 Dec 2008
487 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 16232
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Tayler, Collette & Grieshaber, Susan
Keywords: kindergarten principal, leadership, Hong Kong, gender
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Department: Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Tricia Kwok Sai Wong
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:59
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:40

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page