The challenge of strategic management and strategic leadership in the case of three New Zealand secondary schools

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Harray, Neil
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Cardno, Carol
Youngs, Howard
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
secondary schools
strategic leadership
strategic management
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Harray, N. (2009). The challenge of strategic management and strategic leadership in the case of three New Zealand secondary schools. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
In 2003, as part of the amended Education Act, the Ministry of Education mandated that schools submit a strategic plan as part of the revised charter requirements. The model used by the Ministry of Education uses corporate concepts of strategic planning that do not apply easily to the school environment. Strategic planning in the corporate sector is an integral part of a wider concept, strategic management. There is little research examining strategic management practices within a New Zealand secondary school setting. There were four research questions that guided this study. What is the nature of strategic management and strategic leadership as conveyed by the literature? What are the expectations held of New Zealand secondary schools in relation to strategic management and strategic leadership? How do secondary schools practice strategic management and strategic leadership? What is the importance of leadership in the management of strategy? Key issues from the literature focus on the corporate definitions of strategic management and the difficulties schools have in adequately resourcing strategic management. In addition, the strategic nature of leadership and the requirements from the Ministry of Education are also identified. Three schools were involved in this case study. Teachers and Heads of Departments completed questionnaires and Principals and Board of Trustees chairs were interviewed individually. The data collection was structured around the work of Johnson, Scholes and Whittington (2006). Results from the research indicate that the principal is the key person in leading and coordinating the strategic direction for a school. Each school has attempted aspects of strategic management displaying strengths and weaknesses in various areas. Schools dedicate a significant amount of time consulting key stakeholders in formulating and reviewing strategic goals. The implications from this study indicate that schools are finding it increasingly difficult (through lack of financial and personnel resourcing) to plan with any certainty further than three years in advance. The Ministry of Education could review its current model regarding the inclusion of the strategic planning process to make it more realistic and usable and therefore more meaningful for schools. The use of strategic intent as an approach in this area would rectify this issue. Further professional development for school leaders is recommended in order to develop and explore the opportunities for strategic thinking that exist around strategic management.
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