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Colin W. Evers and Gabriele Lakomski

The influence of cognitive science on educational administration has been patchy. It has varied over four main accounts of cognition, which are, in historical order: behaviorism, functionalism, artificial neural networks, and cognitive neuroscience. These developments, at least as they may have concerned educational administration, go from the late 1940s up to the present day. There also has been a corresponding sequence of developments in educational administration, mainly motivated by accounts of the nature of science. The goal of producing a science of educational administration was dominated by the construal of science as a positivist enterprise. For much of the field’s early development, from the 1950s to the early 1970s, varieties of behaviorism were central, with brief excursions into functionalism. When large-scale alternatives to behaviorism finally began to emerge, they were mostly alternatives to science, and thus failed to comport with much of cognitive science. However, the emergence of postpositivist accounts of science has created the possibility for studies in administrator cognition to be informed by developments in neuroscience. These developments initially included the study of artificial neural networks and more recently have involved biologically realistic mathematical models that reflect work in cognitive neuroscience.


Gabriele Lakomski and Colin W. Evers

From its beginnings in the 1940s, leadership research has been conducted as a scientific activity, with the aim of discovering the essence of leadership that, once found, would provide social–organizational benefits. However, no essence has been discovered, and research continues undeterred. Leadership theories old and new rely on the conception of science, known as logical empiricism, to support their claims. The identification of logical empiricism with science, however, is a mistake as empiricism is no longer considered valid, a mistake perpetuated in contemporary education leadership theories that present their accounts as alternatives to science. A better account of science, “naturalistic coherentism,” is able to advance the theory and practice of education leadership by growing knowledge, not by denying it.