International perspectives on the micropolitics of the superintendency

Lars G. Björk, Tricia Browne-Ferrigno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The rise of globalization compelled national governments to examine how they would adapt widespread social, economic, and political changes to advance their nation’s future wellbeing. Most recognized the pivotal role of education in facilitating adaptation to changes unfolding in society and expressed concern about the quality of their education systems and student academic performance. During the last three decades, nations engaged in what is generally regarded as one of the most intense and protracted attempts at educational reform in recent history. National educational reform initiatives initiated in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and in the United States of America. In many instances, shifts in national education policy altered how school districts were organized, managed, and governed which in turn reconfigured superintendents’ roles. An examination of findings from recent nationwide studies on superintendents suggests that decentralization and devolution of decision-making authority to municipal governments, local schools, and parents may have heightened the importance their micropolitical roles in the provision of education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-156
Number of pages36
JournalResearch in Educational Administration and Leadership
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Nationwide studies funded by the Finnish and Norwegian ministries of education and national research councils in Sweden and Denmark (2009-2011) provide an empirical foundation for a discussion about the how shifts in national education policies influenced changes in the nature and direction of superintendents work. Study findings suggest that the devolution of decision-making authority altered superintendents’ roles, moving them away from management towards micropolitical dispositions. Taken together, these studies provide insight into one dimension of superintendents’ role characterizations in an international setting.

Publisher Copyright:
© Official Publication of EARDA-Turkish Educational Administration Research and Development Association.


  • Change
  • Decentralization
  • Education reform
  • Micropolitics
  • Superintendent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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