Distributed leadership: Ideals and realities in a private secondary school in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


The concept of distributed leadership (DL) is relatively a new notion of school leadership which refers to multiple leaders in school, both formal and informal or designed, or by default. DL practice can be shaped through bottom-up and horizontal multiple interactions among a web of leaders at various levels. The purpose of the study is to explore the perceptions and practices of school leaders about the distributed leadership, while looking at roles, nature of role distribution and the nature of decision- making as distributed phenomena. This study can be sought an acknowledgement as the first of its kind in the context of Pakistan which would contribute to the improvement of schools by identifying how the leadership roles are distributed among multiple leaders in schools to achieve common goals. Furthermore, it will also contribute to the development of a healthy working relationship among all stakeholders of schools in general. This study may also open the avenues for future studies with reference to effective governance of schools in the developing world context like Pakistan. The central research question that guided the study was: How is distributed leadership idealized and practiced in a private secondary school in Karachi, Pakistan? This study has been conducted through the case study method, within the qualitative research paradigm. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, document analysis and observations. Since the purpose of the study was to explore the phenomenon of distributed leadership through studying different roles; therefore, certain actors were the target of the study. The principal, three section heads and two subject coordinators were selected as research participants through purposive sampling. The findings of the study reveal that leadership roles are distributed among multiple stakeholders at FSSI. The leadership roles are distributed formally in collective and collaborative ways. Some leadership roles are informally distributed on the basis of skills, strengths and voluntary spirit of staff members in the school community. Decisions take place at different levels according to the nature of work and are based on consultation and discussion, but personal, time-based decisions were also made. Exploring the leadership talent and division of labour are two important reasons for role distribution among various stakeholders. 1 Five Star School, the pseudonym of the school.

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