A central premise in the literature on leadership highlights its central role in organizational change. In light of the strength of this conceptual association, it is striking to note the paucity of large-scale empirical studies that have investigated how leadership impacts performance improvement in organizations over time. Indeed evidence-based conclusions concerning the impact of leadership on organizational change are drawn largely from case studies and cross-sectional surveys. Neither approach satisfies the design requirements for studying the contribution of leadership to performance improvement in organizations. This paper tests a longitudinal, multilevel model of change in distributed leadership, school improvement capacity, and student performance over a four-year period. The results suggest that change in distributed leadership and organizational capacity for improvement make significant contributions to growth in student learning in reading and math. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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