School leaders and transformational leadership theory: time to part ways?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: – After decades in which transformational leadership theory has prevailed as the dominant paradigm in leadership scholarship, critical voices have started raising serious concerns about its falsifiability, suggesting that transformational leadership theory should be abandoned. Although transformational leadership is a key to conceptualizing ideal school leadership, the discourse did not find its way into the education field. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: – The essay combines a review of the critique of the falsifiability of the transformational leadership theory with a discussion of the utility and fit of the theory. Findings: – On the 25th anniversary of transformational leadership theory, the author suggest to the educational administration community not to abandon transformational leadership, but to address its shortcomings and look toward future challenges as the community contemplates the promises the theory holds for the field. Originality/value: – The essay examines the current status of the transformational leadership theory in the field of educational administration and offers an interpretative critique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-622
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Critique
  • Educational leadership
  • Good theory
  • School leadership
  • Transformational leadership


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