Researching middle leadership in schools: the state of the art

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is the result of a review of Australian and international literature that aimed to identify key themes emerging from middle leadership research dating from the 1990s to 2017. A search process using multiple databases and specific selection criteria identified over 250 research articles, institutional reports, book chapters and books which were then content-analysed. Three main theme categories emerged from the analyses relating to middle leader roles, factors that influence the work of middle leaders, and ways middle leaders might influence school outcomes. Theme categories and sub- categories are described in terms of their prominence as units of investigation and inter-relationships among them are explored. Synthesis of findings from the literature led to the development of a model depicting the state of current scholarship relating to middle leadership. Implications of the model and recommendations for future research agendas around middle leadership include the need to address substantial knowledge gaps about the nature of middle leadership roles, as well as the potential impacts of the work of middle leaders on teacher performance and student outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-27
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Studies in Educational Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • middle leadership
  • middle management
  • teacher leadership
  • research
  • model


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