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Learning-orientated leadership: Actionable knowledge when looking outside the school setting
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In today’s organisations learning and competence issues have entered both the task responsibilities of managers and the strategic level agendas. Sandberg and Targama (2007) identify such priorities in management practice and a need for managers to develop a “more important pedagogical role” (p 9). There is an increasing amount of evidence of the importance of workplace learning for organisational performance and success (Cedefop 2011). The interest in forwarding work-integrated learning is based on the fact that adequate competence is a side effect of learning processes that occur whilst carrying out work tasks (Billett 2004; Döös 2007).

In Swedish school settings the concept of pedagogic leadership has a lengthy story and is described as tenacious political rhetoric lacking scientific ground (Nestor 2006). In times when leadership transition is asked for, we argue the fruitfulness of going outside the school context to find actionable knowledge in other sectors of working life. Especially as pedagogical leadership in school contexts seems contaminated with pedagogy being the core activity of a school organisation.

By presenting an empirical study from the software communication industry we introduce learning-orientated leadership as an alternative concept to pedagogical leadership. The aim is to contribute knowledge about learning-orientated leadership as part of managers’ everyday work and to discuss this knowledge as relevant to the educational leadership in the school sector. Learning-orientated-leadership is defined as a task that intervenes into learning processes integrated in the carrying out of an organisations’ main tasks (Döös et al. 2013; Wilhelmson et al. 2013).

Two theoretical strands are used: theory on work-integrated learning and on learning-orientated leadership. Work-integrated learning is closely connected to the development of skills and competence (Ellström 2001), and a key part of organisations’ performance. Such learning has the potential to enable people to individually and jointly carry out tasks in adequate ways in relation to intentions and goals. This theoretical lens opens up for identifying everyday learning processes that are intervened into, and to focus an aspect of managers’ everyday leadership actions as a learning-orientated task.

Data was collected in semi-structured interviews with nine middle managers belonging to the top management team of a 1200 people R&D unit. In the analysis of managers’ influencing activities, we use a distinction between direct and indirect influence, and a fostering – enabling dimension to identify different qualities of learning orientated-leadership. Managers are found to facilitate work-integrated learning as direct influence of individual co-workers but also indirectly through the organising of work tasks. This knowledge is potentially useful for school principals in relation to their strive to fulfil the national educational goals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
learning-orientated leadership, school, principal
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108105OAI: diva2:754045
Educational Leadership in Transition
Available from: 2014-10-09 Created: 2014-10-09 Last updated: 2014-11-11Bibliographically approved

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Döös, MarianneLena, Wilhelmson
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