Creativity and leadership as organizational vectors

Implications for East Asian school reform

Authored by: Roger Shouse , Jinyan Bai , Chenwei Ma

Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138908499
eBook ISBN: 9781315694382
Adobe ISBN:


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In an organizational context, school reform may be thought of as resting upon a conceptual tripod of leadership, creativity, and innovation. Our chapter, however, highlights how East Asian school reform efforts are hindered by normative and semantic restrictions on the meaning of these concepts. Specifically, it discusses how leadership and creativity tend to be privileged within East Asian culture, generally applied only to individuals or groups with formal rank or socially ascribed status. In turn, we argue, such privileging limits the potential for educational innovation. Stripped of their privileged meanings, we further suggest that leadership and creativity be viewed as (1) natural human phenomena; (2) fundamentally similar expressions of human experience; and (3) valuable resources for school organizational change. To highlight the powerful potential of such understandings, we describe how creativity and leadership can be conceptualized as vectors of force within an organizational field. Using this framework, we then examine how formal and informal characteristics of typical East Asian school contexts restrict or allow the flow and progress of school reform efforts.

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