Understanding distributed leadership practice in the cultural context of Chinese higher education

Dr. Xintong Lu, Postdoc research fellow, Faculty of Education, East China Normal university, Shanghai, China
Email: Xintong.lv@yahoo.com

Distributed leadership has been widely adopted in Western countries while there is limited research on distributed leadership in the Chinese context, especially Chinese higher education. It may be worth questioning to what extent the theories of distributed leadership that emerge from Western countries may apply to Chinese universities, and how distributed leadership is manifested in practice. Drawing upon empirical evidence from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with leaders and staff members in a Chinese university, this study examines the extent to which leadership is distributed at the departmental level, the mechanisms of distributed leadership, and the effects of Chinese sociocultural dimensions on the distribution of leadership in this Chinese university. The findings indicate that leadership distribution in its practical application can coexist with Chinese hierarchical structures, but is heavily influenced by Chinese sociocultural constructs.

distributed leadership; leadership; Chinese higher education; Asia; societal context

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