Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 307-328

First online:

How Do Schools Bridge the Gap Between External Demands for Accountability and the Need for Internal Trust?

  • Lejf MoosAffiliated withResearch Programme on Professional and Vocational Development and Leadership, Danish University of Education Email author 

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This article will discuss how schools in countries like Denmark cope with the external demands for accountability made on them by many different stakeholders and at the same time strive to build and sustain trust in and trust from staff. The school context in relation to these challenges is seen in light of the increasing complexity of societies. On the one hand, there are pressures to transform the governing of schools towards a more ‘rigorous’ form of New Public Management (NPM). On the other hand, there is a growing consciousness of the need to sustain trust and loyalty in the school as a community. In the middle of this squeeze are the actors: the teachers and school leaders. The school leader is pivotal to the relations with external authorities and communities and to internal agents like staff. The struggle between accountability and trust is seen from the perspective of school leaders, drawing on data and analysis from the Danish part of an international comparative study on the Life History of School Leaders. The data and analyses in this project make it possible to take an historical perspective when trying to understand the thinking of Danish school leaders.


accountability democracy hypercomplexity leadership life history New Public Management trust