Building Leadership Capacity: The Norwegian Approach

  • Jorunn Møller
  • Eli Ottesen
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 25)


This article analyzes how leadership development and preparation is conceptualised and contextualised in the national education program for newly appointed school principals in Norway. Our main focus is on exploring whether there are differing epistemological foundations of various approaches to learning-centred school leadership. Our theoretical framework is informed by a review of a variety of studies, which focus on the relationship between leadership and student learning, and by Michael Fullan’s (2001) framework for thinking about and leading complex change. As empirical basis we have selected and compared two different preparatory programs. While both programs have been granted a status as a national leadership program in Norway, they also demonstrate a variation in understanding leadership for school improvement and student learning. The findings also demonstrate some significant differences across providers with regard to perspective and the emphasis on outcomes, and questioning the extent to which the knowledge base is characterised by a combination of educational theories and research on leadership. Despite these distinctions, which are anchored in different epistemological foundations, both programmes are assumed to contribute to the implementation of a national policy for leadership development and training in Norway. Our main argument is that to understand how this is possible, it is important to trace historical and cultural patterns of social development within the Norwegian context.


School Leader Preparation Programme School Improvement Leadership Development Moral Purpose 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Day, C., & Leithwood, K. (Eds.). (2007). Successful principal leadership in times of change: An international perspective. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Day, C., Sammons, P., Hopkins, D., Harris, A., Leithwood, K., Gu, Q., et al. (2009). The impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes. Research Report DCSF-RR108, Final Report. Department for Children, Schools and Families & National College for School Leadership.
  3. Elstad, E. (2008). Ansvarliggjøringsmekanismer: Når skoleeier eller pressen stiller skoler til ansvar [Mechanisms of accountability policy]. In G. Langfeldt, E. Elstad, & S. Hopmann (Eds.), Ansvarlighet i skolen. Politiske spørsmål og pedagogiske svar (pp. 204–234). Fagernes, Norway: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag.Google Scholar
  4. Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  5. Furman, G. C., & Starratt, R. J. (2002). Leadership for democratic community in schools. In J. Murphy (Ed.), The educational leadership challenge: Redefining leadership for the 21st century (pp. 105–133). Chicago: National Society for the Study of Education.Google Scholar
  6. Gronn, P. (2002). Distributed leadership as a unit of analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 13(4), 423–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hopkins, D. (2007). Every school a great school: Realizing the potential of system leadership. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Knapp, M., Copland, M., & Talbert, J. (2003). Leading for learning: Reflective tools for school and district leaders. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, Center for the Study of Teacher and Policy.Google Scholar
  9. Leithwood, K., & Riehl, C. (2005). What we know about successful school leadership. In W. Firestone & C. Riehl (Eds.), A new agenda: Directions for research on educational leadership (pp. 22–47). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  10. MacBeath, J., Swaffield, S., & Frost, D. (2009). Principled narrative. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 12(3), 223–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Møller, J. (2009). School leadership in an age of accountability: Tensions between managerial and professional accountability. Journal of Educational Change, 10(2), 37–46.Google Scholar
  12. Møller, J., & Schratz, M. (2008). Leadership development in Europe. In G. Crow, J. Lumby, & P. Pashiardis (Eds.), UCEA/BELMAS/CCEAM International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders (pp. 341–367). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  13. Olsen, J. P. (2002). Towards a European administrative space? (26). Oslo, Norway: Arena – Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  14. Pont, B., Nusche, D., & Moorman, H. (2008). Improving school leadership (Vol. 1). Paris: OECD publications.Google Scholar
  15. Report No. 31 to the Storting. (2007/2008). Kvalitet i skolen. Oslo, Norway: Kunnskapsdepartementet. [White paper to the Norwegian Parliament, No. 31 (2007/2008). Quality in Schools. The Royal Ministry of Education and Research].Google Scholar
  16. Robinson, V. M., Lloyd, C. A., & Rowe, K. (2008). The impact of leadership on student outcomes: An analysis of the differential effects of leadership types. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(5), 635–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Spillane, J. P. (2006). Distributed leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.Google Scholar
  18. Tjeldvoll, A. (2008). School management: Norwegian legacies bowing to new public management. Managing Global Transitions, 6(2), 177–205.Google Scholar
  19. Tjeldvoll, A., Wales, C., & Welle-Strand, A. (2005). School leadership training under globalisation: Comparisons of the UK, the US and Norway. Managing Global Transitions, 3(1), 23–49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher Education and School ResearchUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations