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Courting strategy management through the intervention of liberation leadership

O'Donovan, Seamus


Seamus O'Donovan


Brent, 1949 Davies

Barry P., 1947 Bright


This study explores second-level schools that display liberation leadership characteristics in order to determine the extent of their responsiveness to strategic management so as to determine how their principals are coping with the unprecedented number of changes they have experienced in the last 5 to 8 years. The aim is to investigate schools that are effectively enhancing their educational provision by the courting of strategy management through the intervention of liberation leadership. As an entry point, the research draws on aspects of the concept of strategy management as propounded by Davies et al. (2005) and on the work of Kouzes’ and Posner’s (2002), among others, regarding leadership practices to investigate a possible symbiotic relationship between strategic management and liberation leadership. Liberation leadership is regarded as a sine qua non of strategic thinking.

Few would disagree that there are probably as many styles and facets of leadership as there are leaders; also, all schools are involved in planning of some sort but few engage in strategic management planning. Second-level school principals (in two counties in the south of the Republic of Ireland) were first surveyed and then a select sample was interviewed in-depth in order to explore if there were key factors in school leadership that contributed to strategic management in their schools and to further explore any quid pro quo relationship between these concepts. In other words, the study looked for practices through which factors associated with liberation leadership express themselves in strategic management and as such are coping quite well with their environment.

The findings of the research indicate that there are leaders who

- Are liberational in their approach, who go beyond the status quo, go beyond the ‘normal’ and ‘usual’, who do ‘things differently’ and who provide more than what is expected: leaders who engage in strategic thinking and who do the right things, right

- Are embracing and indeed cultivating change: 90% of the interviewed principals support change, creativity and innovation quite a lot, in their schools

- Engage with the elements of the strategic process, albeit not necessarily because of a deliberative and proactive approach towards strategy management. They stumble into the process inadvertently as part of what they do as liberation leaders; the process is neither structured nor formalised.

Recommendations are put forward to help make the schools more aware and more responsive to strategy management and liberation leadership and to address some of the issues that arose throughout the interviews.


O'Donovan, S. (2007). Courting strategy management through the intervention of liberation leadership. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 15, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Education
Public URL
Additional Information Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Nov 1, 2007


Thesis (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2007 O'Donovan, Seamus. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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