Policy, Perceptions, and Practice: A Study of Educational Leadership and Their Balancing of Expectations and Interests at Micro-level

  • Bjørn Stensaker
  • Nicoline FrølichEmail author
  • Per Olaf Aamodt
Original Article

As international and domestic policy initiatives continue to sweep over higher education, it is of utmost importance to study how those responsible for the implementation of the many initiatives taken perceive and respond to the many expectations about change and renewal. Through three different analytical perspectives — a managerial, a disciplinary, and a stakeholder perspective — the current article offers insights into how educational leaders responsible for the management of study programmes at micro-level interpret external expectations and how they prioritize between them. Based on data derived from a representative sample of Norwegian educational leaders, the current article finds — somewhat surprisingly — that the managerial perspective is less relevant for understanding the sense-making of educational leaders and how they prioritize between different tasks in their daily work. Disciplinary and the stakeholder perspectives are in this respect more relevant for explaining the practices related to programme management. The study provides indications of a (continued) gap between macro-level policy-making and its implementation at micro-level. In the conclusion, the findings are reflected upon and implications for policy and practice are outlined.


Policy educational leadership quality Norway 


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Copyright information

© International Association of Universities 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.NIFU – Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and EducationOsloNorway

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