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Ethical Dilemmas: The 'bread and butter' of educational leaders' lives


Cranston, NC and Erich, L and Kimber, M, Ethical Dilemmas: The 'bread and butter' of educational leaders' lives, Journal of Educational Administration, 44, (2) pp. 106-121. ISSN 0957-8234 (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1108/09578230610652015


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to report on research into the ethical dilemmas faced by school heads from seven independent schools in Australia. Design/methodology/approach Data for the research were gathered by semi-structured in-depth interviews with the Heads, all of whom were experienced school leaders. All the schools had religious affiliations. Findings The findings are broadly consistent with the conclusions reached in other Australian and international studies dealing with school leaders which suggest that ethical dilemmas, usually concerning issues to do with staff or students, are so common now that they have become the "bread and butter" of educational leaders' lives. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the struggles school leaders experience when faced with such dilemmas and the forces at play as they seek to resolve them Typically, the dilemmas are not about "right" versus "wrong", but "right" versus "right" options. Research limitations/implications It is clear that the ethical dimensions of the work of school leaders require further investigation as ethical dilemmas are almost a daily occurrence for them as they strive to make complex decisions in the best interests of their school communities. Practical implications Professional development in the areas of ethics and ethical decision-making for school leaders is indicated. Problem-based learning offers potential in this regard. Originality/value The research reported in the paper adds to, and builds on, the growing body of research into ethics in education, particularly how ethical issues emerge when school leaders are required to make complex decisions in contexts where individual, group and organisational interests may be in conflict.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Leadership, Education, Ethics
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Educational administration, management and leadership
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Management, resources and leadership
UTAS Author:Cranston, NC (Professor Neil Cranston)
ID Code:67049
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2011-02-23
Last Modified:2012-02-09

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