A1 Journal article (refereed)
Shanghai Teachers’ Perceptions of Distributed Leadership : Resources and Agency (2021)

Tian, M., & Virtanen, T. (2021). Shanghai Teachers’ Perceptions of Distributed Leadership : Resources and Agency. ECNU Review of Education, 4(4), 808-829. https://doi.org/10.1177/2096531120921051

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Tian, Meng; Virtanen, Tuomo

Journal or series: ECNU Review of Education

ISSN: 2096-5311

eISSN: 2632-1742

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 4

Issue number: 4

Pages range: 808-829

Publisher: SAGE Publications; East China Normal University

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2096531120921051

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/76977


Drawing on distributed leadership and motivation theories, this study investigates teachers’ perceptions of resource and agency distributions and identifies the key factors motivating leadership among teachers.

This quantitative study collected data from 327 teachers in nine schools in Shanghai. Chi-square tests of independence were conducted to examine the associations between leadership structures and power distance, while Spearman’s correlation tests were used to identify changes in leadership resource impact. A nonparametric Friedman’s test was applied to detect discrepancies between the agency of principals, team leaders, and teachers. Finally, Chi-square tests were conducted to discern the associations between teachers’ workload and motivation to lead.

Most teachers identified the pyramid and spider’s web structures—which feature one power center and a high power distance—in their schools. The leadership resources and agency distributions corresponded to the school hierarchy: the higher position held by a teacher or a leader, the more resources they received, and the greater the agency they exercised. Results indicate that support from the principal is the most important factor in teachers’ participation in distributed leadership, while extra pay and leadership title are the least effective motivators.

This study has theoretical and practical value. First, it demonstrates the value of the resource–agency duality model for analyzing distributed leadership. Second, this study shows that promoting distributed leadership in Shanghai schools requires re-designing organizational resources and individual agency.

Keywords: schools (educational institutions); teachers; leadership (properties); management systems; management culture; human agency; motivation (mental objects)

Free keywords: distributed leadership; leadership as a resource; leadership as agency; motivation to lead; Shanghai schools; teachers

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-04-01 at 09:08