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Sacred and secular leadership discourses : interpreting the leadership of evangelical Christian school leaders

The research enquiry for this thesis, from an insider/outsider position, is a deeply held reflection of personal values, convictions and professional experiences stemming from the researcher's life's work in school leadership both in the United States and abroad. The intent of this study is to engage with the sacred discourse of evangelical Christian school leaders and the discourse of the sacred and secular scholarly literature. This is a qualitative study of a constructivist/interpretivist approach where sem1- structured interviews, with 12 senior school leaders, four in each of three Anglophone countries, inform the data. A more in-depth case study of one school is utilised as a comprehensive illustration of thematic elements revealed through multiple data sources. The preliminary literature for this research was based on the readings of various contemporary theories of leadership and literature around servant-leadership from which the initial research question was framed. As the data analysis advanced, a new framework emerged around attributes of leadership and community building through leadership, making it imperative to accommodate a new set of transformational/relational/ethical literature, taking the story on a completely different journey with a new research question and sub-questions; therefore, leaving behind the initial research question. Two descriptors of leadership became the primary framework for the thesis: the 'sacred' and the 'secular' discourses relating to school leadership. Standing in the doorway, as it were, the researcher took on a role of interpreting and translating one discourse to the other rather than acting solely as observer and interpreter of the data. The findings, the utilisation of two discourses, and the interpretive stance make a positive and original contribution to knowledge and are significant in two ways. First, the participants, speaking through the sacred discourse, express an extension to or linkage with the secular literature, revealing much more overlap between the two discourses than was expected. Second, the secular literature does not capture the sacred discourse; there is an appurtenance - an add-on - a more spiritual dimension, to consider.
Date January 2013
CreatorsMcIntosh, Kathryn L.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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