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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, EDUCATION (oxfordre.com/education). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 09 July 2020

Summary and Keywords

Distributed leadership is a diverse concept, prominent in the education field since the turn of the millennium. Practitioners, researchers, and policymakers often tout it as a preferred mode of leadership. Distributed leadership has historical roots in the leadership studies field and first came to prominence in the education field as an alternative unit of analysis for understanding leadership through a distributed perspective rather than a focus mainly on discrete leader behaviors. This perspective was surpassed but not replaced by a normative position where distributed leadership is a means for organizational development. Research studies reveal distributed leadership has many forms in practice. The associated knowledge production emerging from such studies as well as typologies and critical commentaries expose multiple positions. Distributed leadership is not only a diverse concept, but a complex one. Despite its popularity, critical perspectives related to power and issues of social justice still require further development. There are also calls to reposition distributed leadership as a hybrid of dispersed and individual leadership.

Keywords: distributed leadership, distributive leadership, shared leadership, distributed perspective, hybrid configurations, educational leadership

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