Perceptions of School Leadership in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

| January 20, 2015

Title: Perceptions of School Leadership in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)


Dr. David Litz


There are increasing pressures in schools in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to enact change, and the academic literature has shown that transformational leadership is positively associated with school leaders’ effectiveness at implementing reforms. The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which school principals in the UAE practice transformational leadership to bring about change and innovation within this Middle Eastern educational context, as well as to investigate teachers’ and principals’ overall acceptance of this type of leadership in this country. The research design was a mixed-method approach that was underpinned by the pragmatic paradigm. The methods that were utilized in this study involved an initial questionnaire that was administered to teachers and principals in addition to detailed follow-up interviews conducted by the researcher. 130 participants were involved in the survey while four principals and 12 teachers participated in the semi-structured interviews. The findings indicated that principals believe they were practicing high levels of transformational leadership, but the majority of the teachers disagreed with that assessment. This trend emerged from all the components of the transformational leadership model that was utilized in the study: challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modelling the way, and encouraging the heart. When the results were analysed within the context of Hofstede’s cultural models, it appeared that the differences in opinions between principals and teachers would be a natural extension of cultural differences between the largely Islamic population and a more Western orientation of the transformational leadership paradigm adopted by the Emirati (Arab) principals. This realization suggested that transformational leadership could still be a success in Arab nations such as the UAE, but modification of that model was suggested; a proposed model, the ‘Modified Transformational Model’, is provided. Although transactional leadership is still prevalent in the UAE, adopting the recommendation that change be directed gradually, including adding more education and training about the concepts of professionalism and leadership, as well as expanding the research base and conducting more cross-cultural studies, should assist in ensuring the successful adoption of transformational leadership in Arab and Islamic nations, to great import.. Perceptions of School Leadership in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Category: 2015 Thesis, Thesis