Centralized Education Systems, Bureaucracy and Leadership

Eastern Mediterranean University, Faculty of Education.


Problem Statement: In centralized, bureaucratically structured education systems, school principals are generally appointed bureaucrats, expected to comply with rules and regulations. Their duties and responsibilities are regulated by legislations. Public school principals, in North Cyprus, too are appointed bureaucrats. Thus, they are expected to exert ‘initiation of structure’ in their work environment rather than ‘consideration’. However, the current trends force them to exert both type of behaviors; while the first requiring them to carry out day to day duties and responsibilities, the latter requiring consideration for human needs and relations.

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of the study is to survey leadership behaviors (consideration and initiation of structure) of public elementary and secondary school principals as perceived by public school teachers; to investigate the difference between public elementary and secondary school teachers’ perceptions of their school principals’ leadership behaviors; draw conclusions related to bureaucratic structures of schools and leadership behaviors of school principals; and make recommendations for further studies. The study is unique as it is the first of its kind done in North Cyprus and is expected to initiate studies in the field of educational administration, management and leadership which may lead to changes in the education system towards global needs.

Methods: The study is a mixed research possessing characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative research. It employs The Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) to collect qualitative data. Quantitative data is collected by a semi-structured interview with school principals. Five hundred and ninety nine participants (n = 599) took part in the study. Ten public school principals, 2 from each district, were selected randomly to be interviewed.

Conclusions and Recommendations: In a globalized context, education systems are moving more towards flexibility and autonomy, so school principals need to exert both ‘initiation of structure’ and ‘consideration’ behaviors. Besiders the requirements of their bureaucratic positions, they should address diverse individual interests, needs and wants of the group they are managing. Therefore, a more consultative, participatory and inclusionary leadership is needed to meet the needs of the teachers, parents, learners and the community. Further research may focus on issues such as what public school principals see as major barriers in the operation of their schools and achievement of quality student learning; and the inefficiencies and inadequacies in institutional operations resulting from bureaucracy that may cause teacher job dissatisfaction and low student achievement.

Keywords: centralized education, bureaucracy, leadership, consideration, initiation of structure