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Article

Review of research on
educational leadership
and management in Asia:
A comparative analysis
of research topics and
methods, 19952012

Educational Management
Administration & Leadership
2015, Vol. 43(1) 527
The Author(s) 2014
Reprints and permission:
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DOI: 10.1177/1741143214535744
emal.sagepub.com

Philip Hallinger and Junjun Chen

Abstract
Over the past two decades scholars have called for a more concerted effort to develop an empirically
grounded literature on educational leadership outside of mainstream Western contexts. This
paper reports the results of a review of research topics and methods that comprise the literature on
educational leadership and management in Asia between 1995 and 2012. The review of research
employed a quantitative descriptive form of systematic review of 478 articles published in eight
core international journals in educational leadership and management over this period. The review
examined trends in publication volume and impact, as well as research topics and methods used by
scholars studying educational leadership and management in Asia. The study concluded that Asian
scholarship in educational leadership and management remains in the early stages of development.
Knowledge production is highly uneven across the continent, with only a few pockets of research
excellence. Significant growth trends were observed in terms of scholarly interest in studying
leadership in K-12 schools, school change, effects and improvement, and organizational behavior in
education. Although qualitative research methods were more popular in this literature prior to 2006,
the use of quantitative research methods has increased sharply during the past six years.
Keywords
Administration, educational leadership, educational management, Asia, K-12 schools

Introduction
Educational leadership and management is first and foremost an applied field of study. Historically,
our fields theoretical contributions to scholarship in related fields of organizational behavior,

Corresponding author:
Phillip Hallinger, Professor of Education Management, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Email: hallinger@gmail.com

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management, leadership, psychology, and sociology have been few and far between (Bridges,
1982; Campbell, 1979; Campbell and Faber, 1961; Donmoyer et al., 1995; Griffiths, 1979; March,
1978; Murphy et al., 2007; Ogawa et al., 2000). Thus, research on educational leadership and management must be evaluated primarily in terms of its ability to inform policy and practice in educational organizations.
Scholars have further noted that the literature on educational leadership and management has been
dominated by contributions from English-speaking, Western societies (Dimmock, 2000; Dimmock
and Walker, 2005; Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger et al., 2005). Consequently, as a field of study, we have
only a limited understanding of how educational leadership and management is practiced outside of
these contexts. As recognition of this limitation has grown over the past 20 years, scholars have called
for a broader-based effort at building a globally relevant knowledge base in educational leadership
and management (e.g. Belchetz and Leithwood, 2007; Bush and Qiang, 2002; Dimmock and Walker,
2005; Hallinger and Leithwood, 1996, 1998). A global knowledge base would be capable of providing a more fine-grained understanding of how school leaders meet the challenges of managing
schools across different organizational and socio-cultural contexts (Bajunid, 1996; Belchetz and
Leithwood, 2007; Cheng, 1995; Dimmock and Walker, 2005; Goldring et al., 2008; Hallinger,
1995; Hallinger and Leithwood, 1996, 1998; Hallinger et al., 2005; Walker and Dimmock, 2000).
The current study seeks to understand patterns of knowledge production in educational leadership and management across societies in Asia since the mid-1990s. The study addressed the following research questions:
What was the volume of articles published on educational leadership and management from
Asia and how has it changed since the mid-1990s?
How is this literature distributed in terms of the kinds of articles published in international
journals (e.g. non-empirical, empirical, review)?
What has been the topical focus of articles of scholars studying educational leadership and
management in Asia?
What methodological preferences are evident in the scholarship on educational leadership
and management in Asia?
What does the pattern of citation impact of publications reveal about knowledge accumulation in the Asian literature on educational leadership and management?
This research holds the possibility of making several contributions to the global literature on educational leadership and management. By outlining the contours of the Asian literature (e.g. topics,
kinds, methods), the review can highlight blank spots and blind spots in the existing Asian knowledge base (Hallinger and Heck, 1996). This should be of service to researchers as they select foci and
methods for future studies. In addition, the comparative approach taken in this review enriches our
perspective on the diversity of higher education development within Asia and globally. This is a necessary building block for the development of a comparative literature in educational leadership
and management (Hallinger and Leithwood, 1996, 1998; Walker and Dimmock, 2000, 2002).

Historical overview of knowledge production in the field of educational


leadership and management
Prior to examining Asian scholarship on educational leadership and management, we begin with a
historical overview of the fields development since its inception in the mid-20th century. Reviews
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Hallinger and Chen: Review of research on educational leadership and management in Asia

of research provide signposts on the path of intellectual development (Hallinger, 2013b). Thus, we
begin by highlighting findings from a series of reviews of research on educational leadership and
management published since the early 1960s. This provides a high ground view of changes in
the field, and lays the foundation for employing a comparative perspective to interpreting the
evolution of the Asian literature.
Educational leadership and management first emerged as a field of formal inquiry in the United
States during the mid-20th century (Boyan, 1981; Griffiths, 1959, 1979). During the
1960s, selected scholars (Briner and Campbell, 1964; Campbell and Faber, 1961; Erickson, 1967;
Lipham, 1964) reviewed the first generation of empirical and theoretical research in educational
leadership and management, then referred to almost exclusively as educational administration.
Scholarship during this period was heavily influenced by the newly emerging theory movement in educational administration (see Campbell and Faber, 1961; Griffiths, 1959, 1979). Previously, research in educational administration had consisted largely of a-theoretical case studies
and school surveys. This new intellectual movement sought to reframe research in educational
administration within the broader theoretical traditions of the social sciences (see Boyan, 1968,
1981; Campbell and Faber, 1961; Griffiths, 1959, 1979). Scholars not only encouraged researchers
to apply theoretical constructs from psychology and sociology but also to employ more varied and
systematic research designs and methods (e.g. Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Erickson, 1967;
Griffiths, 1979; Haller, 1979; Lipham, 1964).
The first published reviews also pointed the way towards more productive theoretical constructs, topical foci, and methods for future scholarship (see Briner and Campbell, 1964; Campbell
and Faber, 1961; Erickson, 1967; Lipham, 1964). The theory movement in educational administration continued to hold sway during the 1960s and 1970s as both senior scholars and doctoral
students sought to fulfill the vision of creating a science of educational administration (Campbell, 1979; Griffiths, 1979; Kiley, 1973; Moore, 1974). These efforts represented the first explicit
attempts among scholars to employ systematic approaches towards knowledge production in educational administration (see Campbell, 1979; Erickson, 1967, 1979; Griffiths, 1979; Haller, 1979;
Kiley, 1973; Lipham, 1964; March, 1978; Moore, 1974).
Nonetheless, by the early 1980s the theory movements influence on scholarship in educational
administration began to wane. There was a growing feeling among scholars and practitioners that
the movement had failed to demonstrate substantive progress towards achieving the ambitious goal
of developing a science of school administration. This was acknowledged in a new series of critical
reviews conducted by leading scholars previously associated with the theory movement (e.g.
Boyan, 1981; Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Erickson, 1979; Griffiths, 1979; Haller, 1979).
For example, in 1979 Roald Campbell, founding editor of the Educational Administration
Quarterly (EAQ), was asked to conduct a retrospective assessment of the journals contribution
to knowledge. Campbell analyzed the full set of articles published in EAQ since its inception
15 years earlier. He concluded: The published articles deal with such a wide range of issues that
one is led to conclude that . . . there has been little cumulative building of knowledge in the field
(Campbell, 1979: 16).
Around the same time, Edwin Bridges (1982) reviewed theories, methodologies and results
found within a large set of published articles and doctoral studies conducted since the mid1960s. His conclusions reprised a similar theme concerning the lack of knowledge accumulation.
Research on the school administrator for the period 19671980 reminds one of the dictum: The more
things change, the more they remain the same. The state-of-the art is scarcely different from what
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Educational Management Administration & Leadership 43(1)


seemed to be in place nearly 15 years ago . . . In short, there is no compelling evidence to suggest that a
major theoretical issue or practical problem relating to school administrators has been resolved by
those toiling in the intellectual vineyards since 1967 (Bridges, 1982: 24-25).

Despite this apparent lack of substantive progress, other scholars claimed to see a hint of light
emerging on the horizon (e.g. Bossert et al., 1982; Erickson, 1979; Leithwood and Montgomery,
1982; Murphy et al., 1983). Although cognizant of continuing theoretical and methodological limitations in this literature, they suggested that some lines of inquiry related to the practice of school
leadership showed potential to yield intellectual fruit in the future. For example, in a prescient prediction, Donald Erickson (1979) made the following observation.
Three years ago I opined that the most promising relevant work, largely ignored by scholars identified
with educational administration was the work on school effects. The literature during the last three
years has further reinforced my dual conviction that school effects studies, broadly defined, represent
the current leading edge in the research domain I am assessing, and that few scholars affiliated with educational administration are taking note of them, though nothing could be more profoundly pertinent than
the school effects studies to the consequence of educational organization (Erickson, 1979: 10).

These observations highlighted a growing recognition of the need for programmatic research
that explored causal connections between the practice of educational administration and teaching
and learning in schools (Bossert et al., 1982; Bridges, 1967, 1982; Erickson, 1979; Leithwood and
Montgomery, 1982; Murphy et al., 1983). Scholars further highlighted the importance of studying
how the practice of school leadership is shaped by the context in which it is enacted (e.g. Bossert
et al., 1982; Bridges, 1977, 1982; Getzels et al., 1968). Finally, it was noted that substantive progress would only come about through sustained programmatic inquiry that employed a more systematic application of theory and research methods (e.g. Bossert et al., 1982; Bridges, 1982;
Haller, 1979; Leithwood and Montgomery, 1982; Murphy et al., 1983).
Subsequently, during the 1990s, findings reported in a new series of research reviews gave credence to Ericksons earlier prediction (Hallinger and Heck, 1996, 1998; Hallinger and Leithwood,
1994; Leithwood et al., 1990). These reviews identified progress in theoretical application,
research methodology and substantive results in research specifically focused on school leadership
and student learning. Equally important, they affirmed the potency of sustained programmatic
research on a specific line of inquiry as a necessary condition for knowledge accumulation. Thus,
Hallinger and Heck (1996) concluded:
The fact that such relationships are emerging form empirical analysis is of both practical and theoretical significance. For practical purposes, we can begin to imagine a day when prescriptions from
research on leadership effects will do justice to the complexity of the principals role. Of theoretical
significance, the simultaneous modeling of leadership effects in conjunction with organizational goal
structure and environmental context draws attention back to an important, though underexplored, line
of inquiry in the organizational theory literature . . . (1996: 38).

Thus, by the turn of the 21st century, the field was, for the first time, beginning to demonstrate
the capacity to generate verifiable, replicable research findings with relevance to practice. Moreover, progress gathered pace with four notable developments during the first decade of the 21st
century. First, a broader set of international scholars was becoming actively engaged in empirical
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research on educational leadership (Hallinger, 2013). Scholars in Europe (Day et al., 2010;
Southworth, 2002; Witziers et al., 2003) and Austral-Asia (e.g. Gronn, 2002; MacBeath and
Cheng, 2008; Mulford and Silins, 2003; Robinson et al., 2008; Walker and Dimmock, 2000) were
beginning to exercise intellectual leadership, thereby broadening the fields reach beyond its traditional base in North America.
Second, the emergence of educational administration as a field of global interest also led to a
subtle but significant re-titling of the discipline. Although the American scholarly tradition had
used the term educational administration, this came to be viewed as an overly constrained conception of the discipline. As noted above, research on leadership in schools had assumed a more
central place in the field during the prior 20 years (Hallinger and Heck, 1996, 1998). Moreover,
leadership was no longer viewed as a function of organizational roles and hierarchy (e.g. Gronn,
2002). Thus, the term educational leadership and management has gradually supplanted educational administration as a more widely accepted title for the discipline since the turn of the 21st
century.1
Third, during the past decade, the trend of applying more powerful and diverse conceptual and
methodological tools to the study of educational leadership and management has continued to
evolve (Hallinger, 2011a; Heck and Hallinger, 2005; Murphy et al., 2007). Conceptual tools
include the explicit elaboration and application of more diverse theoretical models to the study
of school leadership (e.g. transformational, transactional, strategic, instructional, distributed leadership). Methodological advancements have centered on the use of more systematic approaches in
carrying out research. This is observable in the means of conducting qualitative research, quantitative research and research reviews (Hallinger, 2013).
Although the broad literature continued to evidence some of the shortcomings identified in
earlier reviews of research (see Hallinger, 2011a), a growing body of high quality studies could
also be discerned. Consequently, for the first time, scholars were able to employ sophisticated
meta-analytic tools towards the synthesis of findings in the evolving knowledge base (e.g. see
Leithwood and Sun, 2012; Robinson et al., 2008; Witziers et al., 2003). The results of these
meta-analytic reviews have reinforced the perception of substantive progress on a selected set
of issues concerning leadership and learning (see also Day et al., 2010; Leithwood et al.,
2008; Mulford and Silins, 2003).
We undertook this historical overview of knowledge production in educational leadership and
management in order to provide a comparative background against which to interpret the results of
our investigation into the evolving literature on educational leadership and management in Asia.
Based on this overview, we wish to highlight several conclusions that pertain to successful efforts
at knowledge production.
Although diversity in the choice of topics for research should be honored, progress within a field
of inquiry also requires a degree of sustained focus in order to achieve knowledge accumulation
(Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Hallinger, 2011a, 2011b; Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Murphy
et al., 2007; Ogawa et al., 2000).
Repetitive use of under-powered methodological tools on either a focused or a diverse set of
research questions does not yield substantive progress towards knowledge accumulation (Bridges,
1982; Haller, 1979; Hallinger, 2011a, 2011b; Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Murphy et al., 1983).
Persistence in examining a research issue through a combination of sustained theoretical and
empirical programmatic investigation is required in order to produce knowledge accumulation and
breakthroughs in understanding (Bossert et al., 1982; Campbell, 1979; Erickson, 1979; Hallinger
and Heck, 1996, 1998; Heck and Hallinger, 2005; Leithwood and Sun, 2012).
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Qualitative and quantitative studies offer complementary, mutually reinforcing contributions to


the development of a mature knowledge base in an applied social science domain (Bush, 2006;
Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005; Murphy et al., 2007).
Research reviews play a critical role in the construction of knowledge by highlighting intellectual progress as well as identifying blind spots and blank spots in the field of vision of scholars
(Bridges, 1982; Hallinger, 2013a, 2013b; Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Murphy et al., 2007).
The current review employs these conclusions as points of reference in understanding the recent
evolution of the Asian literature on educational leadership and management. For example, the foci
selected for this review (e.g. volume, topics, article kinds, research methods, citation impact) mirror those adopted by past reviewers of research in the field. This approach enables us to compare
patterns of intellectual progress in Asia with the more general historical development of the field.
We hope this could lead to strategies for accelerating progress in research capacity development
and knowledge production in the future (Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger and Bryant, 2013a).

Method
This study employed a descriptive, quantitative form of systematic review of research (Gough,
2007; Hallinger, 2013a). We identified a clearly delimited body of research on educational leadership and management in Asia, employed a systematic search within that literature, downloaded
relevant publications, extracted information from the articles, analyzed trends across the studies,
and synthesized the results (Cooper and Hedges, 2009; Gough, 2007; Hallinger, 2013a, 2013b;
Light and Pillemer, 1984). This allowed us to analyze patterns of change in the Asian literature
on educational leadership and management over the past two decades.

Data collection
The review strategy employed in this study entailed a systematic search of eight core journals in
educational leadership and management (Gough, 2007; Hallinger, 2013a, 2013b). The journals
included Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ), Journal of Educational Administration
(JEA), School Effectiveness and School Improvement (SESI), Educational Management Administration and Leadership (EMAL), International Journal of Leadership in Education (IJLE), International Journal of Educational Management (IJEM), Leadership and Policy in Schools (LPS),
and School Leadership and Management (SLAM). While no list of journals can be considered definitive, this subset was suited to our goal of understanding characteristics of the current knowledge
base on educational leadership and management in Asia. Each of the journals espouses an
internationally-oriented mission of publishing research, employs blind review procedures, publishes in English, and has achieved a reasonable standard of quality and influence as measured
by reputation and citation impact (Cherkowski et al., 2012; Hallinger, 2013b; Hallinger and Bryant, 2013b; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005; Richardson and McLeod, 2009).2
In order to establish the latter criterion, we used the Publish or Perish tool (Harzing, 2007) to
calculate the current h-index for these, as well as other potentially relevant journals. The h-index
statistic aims to measure the cumulative impact of a researchers or journals output by analyzing
the number of citations received (Harzing, 2007).3 The cumulative h-index for these journals ranged from a low of 23 for Leadership and Policy in Schools, to a high of 94 for Educational Administration Quarterly. The mean h-index of the journals was 45.4
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Our selection of journals was also well aligned with recent reputational rankings of international
educational leadership journals (Cherkowski et al., 2012), and overlapped with journals selected in
other scholarly reviews (e.g. Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005). This approach to selection ensured that
the journals, as a group, would provide a broad representation of moderately to highly selective,
international journals focusing on theoretical and empirical knowledge in educational leadership
and management.5
At the same time, however, we should take note of what this selective search strategy (Hallinger,
2013a) did not incorporate. This mode of search did not include articles on education management
published in business or public sector management journals (e.g. see Campbell and Faber, 1961). The
decision to exclude these journals was based on findings from a long series of prior reviews which
reported that scholars in educational leadership and management tend not to publish with great frequency in general management journals (e.g. Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Cherkowski et al.,
2012; Hass et al., 2007; Murphy et al., 2007; Richardson and McLeod, 2009).
A more pertinent limitation was imposed from our decision not to include articles and graduate
research papers published in national language journals and/or stored in local repositories.6
Although understanding the nature and scope of knowledge located in these sources represents
a high priority objective in Asia, the task of searching national language journals and repositories
located in university libraries in a large number of Asian countries was deemed impractical for this
study. Few of the universities in Asia have digitized their dissertation collections. Accessing and
reading journals and dissertations in indigenous languages would have been impossible. We will
further address the implications of this limitation in the concluding section of the paper.
Despite these limitations, we assert that focusing on the internationally published literature offers a
useful, if incomplete, perspective on knowledge production from and about educational leadership and
management in Asia. Findings from an analysis of the internationally published literature represent
one key component necessary for sketching a map of the terrain of regional knowledge in our field
(Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger et al., 2005; Walker and Dimmock, 2000). Moreover, it is an increasingly
explicit and important goal of Asian universities for faculty to publish in international journals (Hallinger, 2014: Mok and Cheung, 2011). Thus, our analysis will also shed light on the changing research
capacity of the regions universities (Hallinger, 2011b; Hien, 2010; Mok and Cheung, 2011).
We narrowed our search of the eight journals to an 18-year period from 1995 to the end of 2012.
Our rationale for choosing this period was historical as well as pragmatic. Commentary on the need
for more research on educational leadership and management in Asia began to appear in the published literature during the mid-1990s (e.g. Bajunid, 1996; Cheng, 1995; Hallinger, 1995; Hallinger and Leithwood, 1996, 1998; Walker and Dimmock, 2000, 2002). Moreover, half of the journals
had only been launched since the 1990s (e.g. SESI, IJLE, LPS, IJEM). Therefore, pragmatically,
we believed that the need for an exhaustive search going back to the 1960s would yield diminishing
returns with respect to the effort required. With this rationale in mind, we selected 1995 as a demarcation point for our search.
Finally, we searched specifically for articles that focused on educational leadership and management in Asia. We defined Asia as a geographic region bounded by Japan in the east and
Israel in the west. To facilitate sub-regional analyses, we used a broad geo-political definition that
resulted in four groups of countries:
 West Asia comprising countries from Turkey in the south to the Arabian peninsula, and east
to Iran;
 Central Asia comprising republics that formerly constituted the Soviet Union;
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 South Asia, inclusive of Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Indian
Subcontinent; and
 East Asia, inclusive of Greater China, the Koreas and Japan, and southeast Asian countries.

Our search found no studies on educational leadership and management from central Asian
societies. We found publications related to nine societies in west Asia (Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait,
Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates), three societies in south Asia
(India, Nepal, and Pakistan), and 13 societies in east Asia (Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia,
Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan,
and Thailand). Thus, we focused on the latter three regions in the subsequent analyses.
We employed regions as one key unit of analysis. Nonetheless, we remain cognizant of the
vast socio-economic, cultural, and political differences among countries across Asia. These differences carry over into the maturity of their higher education systems and their levels of research
productivity (e.g. see Gibbons et al., 1994; Hallinger and Bryant, 2013a; Hien, 2010; van Raan,
1997). Thus, the regional analyses simply offer a broad picture of variation across the continent.
We will return to this issue later when we interpret the findings of this study.
Rather than using a search engine to identify the relevant Asian studies, we employed a more
labor intensive but reliable search method. We searched the websites for each of the eight educational leadership and management journals identified above. We went year by year through each
volume and issue of the eight journals. We read the abstracts of all articles published in these journals in order to identify articles about and/or from Asia.7 When an article was deemed to fit this
basic search criterion, we downloaded a soft file copy of the article. Thus, the downloaded articles
comprised the full corpus of articles published from or about educational leadership and management in Asia in these eight core journals over this 18-year period.

Data extraction
Next we scanned each article with the goal of extracting information relevant to our questions
related to the production of knowledge about educational leadership and management in Asia. The
nature of data extracted from the studies was informed by prior reviews of the literature conducted
in other parts of the world (e.g. Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Hallinger, 2011a, In press; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005; Murphy et al., 2007). Specific data extracted from the articles included the
author(s), title of the article, journal, regional location of the authors and data source, authors universities, location of the university(s), nature of the report (i.e. empirical, non-empirical, review),
research method (i.e. qualitative, quantitative, mixed method), presence of funding, and topic
addressed. It should be noted, however, that due to space limitations only selected data are incorporated into the analyses reported in this paper. That is, the scope of issues addressed by the various
data extracted from the articles was too large to include in a single research report.
Where appropriate, the data were coded (Gough, 2007; Hallinger, 2013a). For example,
research methods, kind of research, funding, and topic were assigned code numbers. The raw and
coded data were entered into an Excel spreadsheet. This facilitated the subsequent quantitative
analysis of publication trends across hundreds of studies.
During this process, it became apparent that other complementary data might be useful for
informing our analyses. So we added data on other relevant variables to the rows describing the
articles in the spreadsheet. These included, for example, the h-index of each specific article, the
annual citation rate of each article, and the h-index for each of the eight journals. The resulting
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spreadsheet contained a wealth of information about the published international literature on educational leadership and management in Asia. This represented the corpus of knowledge that we
analyzed to address the questions posed at the outset of this paper.

Data analysis
The primary goal of this exploratory review of research (Hallinger, 2013a) was to describe trends
in research conducted in Asian research on educational leadership and management between 1995
and 2012. Given this purpose, our methods of data analysis were limited to the use of descriptive
statistics and graphing of trends. We analyzed the data with an eye towards examining the mean level
of knowledge production across the sub-regions and individual societies that comprise Asia. We also
sought to portray changes in publication patterns over time as well as the distribution of knowledge
production in educational leadership and management across different regions of Asia.

Results
We begin by examining the volume of articles published from Asia since 1995, change in the rate
of publication, and citation impact of this literature. Then we analyze the distribution of articles by
kind, topic, and research method.

General pattern of knowledge production


Our search identified 478 articles, from and/or about Asia, in the database of 3,582 articles published in the eight journals between 1995 and the end of 2012 (see also Hallinger and Bryant,
2013b). This represented 13% of the full publication corpus and a mean rate of 27 (SD 11.6)
articles per year over the 18-year period. Although, this is a relatively small portion of the full corpus published in these journals, we noted a steady increase in the number of Asian publications in
recent years (see Figure 1). More specifically, almost half of the articles from Asia (45%) had been
published in the final third of the 18-year period.
Given the vast size and diversity of Asia, we were also interested in how knowledge production
was distributed across different parts of the continent. For example, would publications be evenly
distributed across the continent or concentrated in particular sub-regions or societies? Analysis of
patterns of knowledge production by location could offer insight into the varying levels of research
capacity and knowledge base development in the field across Asia.
We found substantial variation in levels of publication from different parts of Asia (see
Figure 2). Indeed, Figure 2 depicts a bi-modal distribution of publication by region, with east
Asia (235 articles, 49%) and west Asia (161 articles, 34%) accounting for most of the Asian
research articles published in these journals. A small portion of the literature came from south
Asia; no articles came from central Asia in this international literature.
Within east and west Asia, we were surprised to find that knowledge production was highly concentrated in two societies.8 Publications from Hong Kong (155 articles) and Israel (109 articles) represented an astounding 55% of the total Asian literature. This was a significant but wholly unexpected
finding. In addition, we were surprised to find that no other societies in Asia had produced what could
be termed a critical mass of research articles in these journals, which publish the bulk of refereed
international articles in educational leadership and management. More specifically, the next most productive societies after Hong Kong and Israel were Singapore (27), China (26), and Turkey (22). Thus,
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60

53

50
39 40 39

Number of

40
30
20
10

22 22

21

25
20 19
18

21

25

27

42

25

13
7

Year

Figure 1. Annual volume of Asian educational leadership and management articles published in selected
journals, 19952012.

Figure 2. Volume of articles published by regions of Asia in selected journals, 19952012.


Note: General Asia refers to articles about educational leadership and management in Asia, but not located in
a particular country.

we observe that the publication volume was neither evenly distributed by regions nor societies in Asia
(see also Hallinger and Bryant, 2013b).
We also sought to gain perspective on the citation impact of this literature. By the end of 2012, the
Asian corpus of 478 articles had yielded 6,886 citations. That represents an average of 382 citations per
year and 14.4 citations per article over the 18-year period. These are not large numbers when we consider the scope of articles, duration of the time period, and size of the higher education sector in Asia.
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Figure 3. Distribution of the citation count of Asian articles published from 19952012.

Measures of the citation distribution of articles revealed even more about the characteristics of
this corpus. Individual article citation counts ranged from 0 to 792. As shown in Figure 3, a small
number of articles accounted for a disproportionately large number of the total citations. For example, two articles (Hallinger and Heck, 1998; Yu et al., 2002) alone accounted for almost 17% of the
total citations. Conversely, a large number of articles had very few or no citations. The citation
analysis indicates that relatively few of the published articles are having an impact on scholarship
in the field. Taken together, this portrait of corpus volume and citation impact suggests that the
Asian literature has yet to cohere into a influential knowledge base.

Kinds of articles published in the Asian literature


We next examined the kinds of the articles published in the Asian corpus. We classified articles as
empirical, non-empirical, or research review papers. Among the 478 articles in the Asian database,
the 346 empirical studies contained represented a substantial majority (72%). There were also 100
non-empirical, theory-oriented papers (21%), and 32 review articles9 (7%). The category of nonempirical papers consisted of a combination of theoretical treatises and commentaries on policy
issues.
The data in Figure 4 further indicate that the rising volume of Asia articles published in recent
years was largely due to an increase in the number of empirical studies. This could be a potentially
encouraging finding since the development of a regionally-grounded literature depends upon generating a sufficient body of empirical research (Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger and Bryant, 2013a;
Ogawa et al., 2000). Of course, tapping that potential also depends upon the quality of theory and
method applied in the empirical studies (Bridges, 1982).
The distribution of articles classified by region also yielded an interesting finding (see Figure 5).
Scholars in east Asia (48%) and west Asia (41%) accounted for relatively equal portions of the
empirical research pie. However, scholars in east Asia (56%) produced a much higher proportion
of the theoretical literature than scholars in west (14%) or south Asia. A similar trend emerged with
respect to the proportion of review articles in east (44%) and west Asia (22%).
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Figure 4. Asian publications by types of articles, 19952012.


180

Number of Arcles

160
140
120
100

Empirical

80

Non Empirical

60

Research Review

40
20
0

West Asia

South Asia
East Asia
Sub-region of Asia

General Asia

Figure 5. Regional variation in the kinds of articles published, 19952012.

Although the total number of publications is low in proportion to the size of the Asian higher
education enterprise, this pattern of results suggests that the regions scholars have begun to
respond to the earlier calls for more empirical research (CHeng, 1995). When compared with the
volume of research produced 18 years ago, the recent increase in empirical publications does
appear significant and substantial. This historical perspective suggests the gradual development
of an empirically-based Asian literature, though, as noted above, knowledge production is not well
distributed.
Theoretical, commentary, and review papers are also essential to the development of a mature
knowledge base (Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Donmoyer et al., 1995; Murphy et al., 2007;
Ogawa et al., 2000). While the number of research reviews may appear low in relation to the other
kinds of articles, we suggest that this can be traced to two factors. First, historically, reviews of
research are published with less frequency than other kinds of articles (Hallinger, 2013b). Second,
the density and scope of empirical research literature in a field must reach a critical mass before it
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Table 1. Volume of publications by topic, 19952012.


Topic

No. of articles

Leadership in K-12 Schools


Change, School Effects, and Improvement
Cultural Contexts
Leadership in Higher Education
Organizational Behavior (OB Variables and Climate/Culture)
Governance (e.g. SBM and Decentralization)
Human Resource Development
Curriculum and Teaching
Principals
Vice Principals and Middle Leadership
Values, Ethics, and Social Justice
ICT
Decision Making
Theory
Emotions (includes Motivation, Satisfaction, and Conflict)
Parents and Community
Economics of Education
Marketing (Marketing, PR, and Marketing)
Gender
Others

68
60
51
45
40
36
30
23
21
17
12
12
11
8
8
7
6
6
1
16

(14.2%)
(12.6%)
(10.7%)
(9.4%)
(8.4%)
(7.5%)
(6.3%)
(4.8%)
(4.4%)
(3.6%)
(2.5%)
(2.5%)
(2.3%)
(1.7%)
(1.7%)
(1.5%)
(1.3%)
(1.3%)
(.2%)
(3.3%)

becomes ready for systematic review (Hallinger, 2013b). Data presented in this study suggest that,
until recently, it would have been premature to conduct systematic reviews of the Asian literature.
Indeed, several of the review papers identified in our dataset actually focused on the broader international literature, not Asian research per se.

Focal topics of research on education leadership in Asia


Analysis of the topics included in this Asian corpus also represented a focus of this review. Scholars reviewing the literature on educational leadership and management in other parts of the world
have analyzed trends in topical coverage at multiple points in the evolution of the field (e.g.
Bridges, 1982; Campbell, 1979; Erickson, 1967, 1979; Hallinger, 2011a; Lipham, 1964; Murphy
et al., 2007). Thus, we were interested to see what features of leading and managing schools have
attracted the interest of scholars in Asia.
We classified topics into 20 categories (see Table 1). The six most common foci appearing in
this literature were Leadership in K-12 Schools (14%); Change, School Effects, and Improvement
(13%); Cultural Contexts (11%); Leadership and Management in Higher Education (9%); Organizational Behavior in Education (8%); and Governance (8%). Topics attracting the least attention
within this literature included Gender; Marketing; Economics of Education; Parents and Community; Theory; and Emotions.
We noted significant growth trends among articles on Leadership in K-12 Schools; Leadership
and Management in Higher Education; and Change, School Effects, and Improvement in Education in recent years. For example, 60% of the 68 articles published on Leadership in K-12 Schools
appeared since 2010. Similarly, almost 75% of the 34 articles on Leadership and Management in
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Educational Management Administration & Leadership 43(1)

Figure 6. Distribution of articles by research methods, 19952012.

Higher Education were published during the last five years. Indeed, research on this topic did not
show up at all until 2000. We suggest that this reflects the tremendous growth in Asias higher education sector in recent years. In contrast, the topic of Cultural Contexts demonstrated an opposite
tendency. Seventy percent of the articles (51) focusing on Cultural Contexts were published
between 1995 and 1999.
The distribution of topical focus by region also showed interesting patterns. Scholars in east
Asia and west Asia showed similar levels of interest in the topics of Governance, Values, Ethics,
Social Justice, and Parents and Community. However, scholars in east Asia produced a much
higher proportion of the literature on Leadership in K-12 Schools, Cultural Contexts, Change,
School Effects, and Improvement in Education, Vice Principals and Middle Leadership, and
Human Resource Development. In contrast, scholars in west Asia produced a higher proportion
of articles on Organizational Behavior in Education and Decision Making.

Research methods used in the Asian literature


Our analysis also sought to track the research methods employed by scholars authoring empirical
papers within this corpus. We classified empirical articles as employing quantitative, qualitative,
or mixed methods of research. Overall, scholars studying educational leadership and management
in Asia demonstrated a slight preference for employing qualitative methods. Among the 346
empirical studies, 147 employed qualitative methods (43%), 129 relied on quantitative methods
(37%), and 69 used mixed methods (20%).
However, this trend has varied over time. The number of quantitative articles was highly
skewed towards publication during the most recent five years (20082012). Indeed, over half
(54%) of the 129 quantitative articles appeared during this period. This suggests that researchers
in Asia have begun using quantitative methods with increasing frequency in recent years.
We also observed considerable variation across the regions. Scholars from east and west Asia
each produced roughly equal proportions (about 45% each) of the 346 empirical articles. However,
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Table 2. Quantitative publications analyzed by five statistical levels.


Level

Type of statistical analysis

1
2
3
4
5

Descriptive
Single causal factorcorrelational
Single causal factorcorrelational with controls
Multiple factor
Advanced modeling

No. of articles (%)


29 (14.6%)
41 (20.6%)
29 (14.6%)
29 (14.6%)
56 (28.1%)

scholars in east Asia published more of the qualitative (50%) and mixed methods (51%) papers
than their counterparts in west Asia.
We then drilled down into the subset of quantitative publications in order to understand the
kinds of statistical methods in use. As noted earlier in this paper, until recently scholarship in educational leadership and management was characterized by the widespread use of relatively simple
statistical analyses (Bridges, 1982; Haller, 1979; Hallinger, 2011a). Thus we were interested in the
kinds of quantitative methods used by scholars in Asia.
In order to facilitate this analysis, the data were coded into five different levels of statistical
methods. This was based on a classification scheme previously used by Bridges (1982) and Hallinger
(2011a). The five levels were defined as follows.
1. Level 1: Descriptive. The use of numbers to represent central tendencies and/or variability
of scores.
2. Level 2: Single causal factorcorrelational. The examination of relationships or associations
between two variables, one of which presumably co-varies with or influences the other.
3. Level 3: Single causal factorcorrelational with controls. This entails the examination of
the relationship between two variables while controlling for the influence of one or more
other variables.
4. Level 4: Multiple factor. This involves probing the differential effects of multiple sources
of influence on a particular variable.
5. Level 5: Advanced modeling. This comprises tests that are capable of exploring relationships among multiple independent and dependent variables in a manner that allows for the
examination of moderating and/or mediating effects.
Quite surprisingly, out of 198 empirical publications that had employed either quantitative or
mixed methods, Level 5 statistics ranked highest in frequency of use (see Table 2) These studies
accounted for 28% of the empirical publications. Taken together, studies that used Levels 3, 4 and
5 statistical analyses represented 57% of the total sample of studies. This pattern of results compares quite favorably with trends derived from analyses of the North American literature earlier
reported by Bridges (1982) and Hallinger (2011a).

Discussion
This comparative analysis of the literature on educational leadership and management in Asia was
undertaken in order to develop a broad picture of the evolving knowledge base in this region of the
world. We reviewed a corpus comprising 478 articles published in eight international educational
leadership and management journals between 1995 and 2012. Analyses focused on describing
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Educational Management Administration & Leadership 43(1)

trends in knowledge production for Asia as a whole as well as its sub-regions. In this final section
of the paper we summarize the main findings, revisit limitations of the study, and examine the
implications by placing the results in global and historical perspective.

Summary of the findings


The results of this review suggest that research on educational leadership and management in Asia
remains in a relatively early stage of development. Despite recent increases in the rate of knowledge production from some societies in Asia, the overall volume of research was relatively low. In
addition, and of some significance, the distribution of knowledge production was very uneven
across the regions and societies of Asia. Scholars in east and west Asia have produced most of the
Asian research published in the selected journals. Moreover, the bulk of research production was
further concentrated in two societies, Hong Kong and Israel. This pattern of knowledge production
actually limits our ability to speak of an Asian literature.
A regionally-relevant knowledge base depends upon empirical description that is both broad
and deep in coverage from the perspective of different sub-regions and societies. This is especially
true in Asia where the political, economic, social, and cultural diversity of its societies mitigate
against broad generalizations. Currently, as noted, the Asian literature is highly skewed by contributions from a small number of outlier societies (i.e. Hong Kong and Israel) that share similarities but also large differences with other Asian societies. These features further limit our
characterization of an Asian literature in educational leadership and management and frame the
future challenges of stimulating both research capacity and knowledge production.
Citation analyses revealed a relatively low level of scholarly impact for the Asian articles as a
whole. Moreover, we found a highly skewed distribution of articles with a long tail consisting of
publications with minimal to no citation impact. These analyses of publication volume and impact
cohere to form our conclusion of an immature knowledge base on educational leadership and management in Asia. Indeed, these observations about the Asian literature mirror many features identified in the North American literature 30 years ago (e.g. Boyan, 1981; Bridges, 1982; Campbell,
1979; Erickson, 1979).
The study also described characteristics of articles comprising the Asian literature. Empirical
studies not only represented the largest portion of this literature, but also accounted for much of
the increasing volume of publications observed during the past six years. It was interesting to note
that the Asian knowledge base showed a somewhat unexpected concentration on a relatively
small number of topics. These included leadership; school change, effects and improvement;
human resources; higher education management; and organizational behavior in education. We
found that the concentration of topical foci contrasts somewhat with findings from reviews of the
Western literature which historically featured a highly diffuse selection of topics (Bridges,
1982; Campbell, 1979; Donmoyer et al., 1995; Erickson, 1967, 1979; Hallinger, 2011a; Heck
and Hallinger, 2005; Ogawa et al., 2000).
Although authors demonstrated an overall preference for using qualitative research methods,
the use of quantitative and mixed methods of research evidenced a marked increase during the last
six years. Moreover, analysis of the subset of quantitative studies found that a larger than expected
percentage of scholars were employing advanced statistical methods. These findings further refine
our picture of the Asian research context as broadly immature but with emerging capacity and
pockets of research excellence.
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We also wish to place this particular pattern of findings in historical perspective. We earlier
noted that during the mid-1990s a group of Asian-based scholars had called for more concerted
scholarship on educational leadership and management in Asia. The current study used this period
as a time-based point of reference for beginning our exploration into the development of an Asian
literature in educational leadership and management. Our data clearly indicate that scholars in Asia
subsequently intensified their efforts to undertake more research for international publication.
Thus, we were able to identify an emergent corpus of work related to the description and analysis
of educational leadership and management as practiced in Asian societies.

Limitations
In the context of these broad conclusions, we wish to revisit several limitations of the approach that
was employed in this review. First, an implicit limitation followed from our decision to focus on
patterns of knowledge production rather than the content of research findings embedded in this
corpus of articles. We did not attempt to characterize what has been learned from findings reported
in studies conducted in Asia over the past 18 years. The current effort focused instead on describing
the formal outlines of the knowledge base. This will be complemented in the future by a more
in-depth analysis that critically examines substantive findings from the body of studies.
Second, we made a conscious decision to limit our exploration of the Asian literature on educational leadership and management to a specific set of international refereed journals. The patterns of knowledge production might look different if we had included papers authored in
national language journals and graduate theses published in Asian societies. This frames an important caveat for the study. More specifically, the findings are delimited by our definition of the
regional knowledge base as exemplified in these international refereed journals whose language
of communication is English. Thus, we emphasize that this study only examined a portion of
the regional knowledge base.

Implications
The first implication of this study arises from the uneven representation of research on educational
leadership in international journals from the societies comprising Asia. First, the research identified two positive outliers with respect to knowledge production, Hong Kong and Israel. The volume of international publication in these two societies has reached the critical mass needed for
conducting a synthesis of research findings. Thus, we suggest the timeliness of conducting substantive reviews of the research on educational leadership and management in these two societies.
There is also an urgent need to conduct systematic reviews of research in those countries in
which there may be a hidden literature in educational leadership and management. In nations
such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, India, China, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Thailand
we have reason to believe that a substantial number of research papers have been written in indigenous languages. This assertion is supported by a recent review of research on the principalship in
China conducted by Walker et al. (2012). Their review uncovered a large Chinese language literature that is largely inaccessible to an international audience. We suggest that similar hidden literatures worthy of exploration may exist in other Asian countries.
The goal of these reviews should be both to examine indigenous language and English language
literature from Master and Doctoral theses as well as domestic and international journals. Scholars
undertaking these reviews should not only synthesize substantive findings, but also assess the
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methodological quality of the national literature (See Walker et al. (2012) as well as Hallinger
(2013a, 2013b) for exemplars in conducting these reviews). As these reviews are published internationally, the field will begin to develop a richer understanding of both the diversity and commonality that characterize the practice of educational leadership and management globally.
The trend of increased publication evidenced over the past decade is without doubt linked to
recent growth of the higher education sector in Asia. The sharp increase in the volume of publication
in the past five years mirrors regional higher education trends reported in the literature (e.g. Mok and
Cheung, 2011). Regional academics, from Israel and Turkey to India and China, are under increasing
pressure to publish their research in international refereed journals (Altbach and Umakoshi, 2004;
Marginson, 2007; Mok and Cheung, 2011). Thus, a perceived need for development of a verifiable knowledge base in educational leadership and management (Hallinger and Leithwood, 1996,
1998; Walker and Dimmock, 2000) is intersecting with an international trend supporting the development of capacity for knowledge production in Asian universities (Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger and
Bryant, 2013a; Mok and Cheung, 2011). Hopefully, lessons learned from other parts of the world can
help to inform strategic efforts to accelerate knowledge production in Asia (e.g. Donmoyer et al.,
1995; Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger and Bryant, 2013a; Ogawa et al., 2000).
One such lesson concerns the need for some degree of focus in research efforts. Even as we
acknowledge the desirability of broad and balanced coverage in the selection of research topics
and perspectives, it is important to recognize the importance of prioritizing the research agenda.
Learning from past experience further supports the need for programmatic research. Progress in
addressing important problems requires sustained focus on a set of issues by multiple scholars
working in different contexts over time (Campbell, 1979; Hallinger, 2011b; Leithwood and Sun,
2012; Murphy et al., 2007; Ogawa et al., 2000; Robinson et al., 2008).
Similarly, intellectual progress depends upon the correct selection and application of research
methods to high impact research questions (Bridges, 1982). Although the literature described in
this paper appears to evidence some desirable characteristics, the relatively sparse production of
articles also suggests that the capacity for conducting high quality research remains very uneven
across the region. This implies the need for intra- as well as inter-regional cooperation aimed at
capacity building in research (see Hallinger, 2011b; Hallinger and Bryant, 2013a).
This study was undertaken in the context of growing intra-regional cooperation on issues of
higher education development in Asia (e.g. Altbach, 2010; Altbach and Umakoshi, 2004; Gooch,
2012). Although there is little short-term prospect of Asian nations launching their own version of
the Bologna Process in higher education, rising levels of competition and cooperation will continue to describe the future higher education landscape in this region of the world. With this in
mind, the current study highlights mutually reinforcing trends in higher education capacity development and knowledge production.
Funding
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article: The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support of the Research Grant
Council (RGC) of Hong Kong for its support through the General Research Fund (GRF 841512).
Acknowledgments
The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Li Jia, Liu Po Yee and Nguyen Thi Thinh for their assistance in data collection, extraction and analysis.
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Notes
1. Implicit acknowledgement of this shift can be observed in the titles of journals launched during different
eras. The earliest journals in this field launched during the 1960s all featured administration in their
titles (e.g. Journal of Educational Administration, Educational Administration Quarterly, Administrators
Notebook). Relevant journals launched or re-titled during the past 15 years have featured or included leadership and/or management in their titles (e.g. School Leadership and Management, Leadership and Policy
in Schools, Journal of School leadership, Educational Management Administration and Leadership, International Journal of School Leadership, Leading and Managing).
2. It should be noted that Leithwood and Jantzis (2005) review of research on transformational school leadership employed essentially the same set of journals as the basis for their data collection (i.e. seven of the
same journals out of eight).
3. The h-index was proposed by JE Hirsch in his paper An index to quantify an individuals scientific research
output, arXiv: physics/0508025 v5 29 Sep 2005. It is defined as follows: A scientist has index h if h of his/
her Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np-h) papers have no more than h citations each.
4. This is based on analysis using the Publish or Perish tool on May 19, 2012.
5. We considered two other well known journals: Leading and Managing and Journal of School Leadership.
However, the former had a much lower h-index (15), and the latter failed to meet our criterion of having a
mission of including international research.
6. It should be noted that, unlike in the USA, where most doctoral dissertations are stored in digital format by
UMI and made available through Proquest, in Asia such systems are not yet in place. Thus, doctoral dissertations are generally stored in print format at single universities. This makes them largely inaccessible
for the purposes of international research.
7. It should be noted that, given the diverse foci of our research questions, we decided to include all studies
that either investigated about educational leadership and management in these societies or were written
about educational issues more generally but produced by scholars operating within the region.
8. Note that these figures include articles about these societies as well as articles from these societies.
9. It should be noted that we used a loose definition for review articles. These included formal reviews of
research as well as articles that examined an issue solely through reference to the literature but without
a systematic review methodology.

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Author biographies
Philip Hallinger is Professor of Education Management at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
He received his doctorate from Stanford University and conducts research on issues concerning
educational leadership, leadership development, and education reform.
Dr Junjun Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, and a Research Associate in the Asia Pacific Center for Leadership and Change at the Hong
Kong Institute of Education. Her research focuses on teacher development and leadership.

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