An Evaluation of Participatory Leadership Model Within the Educational Context


The benefit of leadership is evident in the performance or success in education, and areas that leaders give priority or choose to spend most of their time on and focus their attention. There are various challenges that face school leadership. These have raised an urgent need to understand the challenges and act in the context of school leadership. There are several leadership styles implemented in various organizations in the world today (Barth, 2001). Therefore, the nature of leadership model and the level of implementation in organizations play important roles in achieving organizational goals.

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In this study, the researcher will focus on Participatory Leadership Model (PLM) and its application in leadership within the education system in Saudi Arabia. Many people have a common belief that leadership plays a pivotal role by successfully implementing working solutions for schools (Barth, 2001). School leaders take on their responsibility since they want to make a difference to the life of children in schools and to promote a better learning environment. The Participatory Leadership Model ensures effective leadership that is placed on institutional heads and how this leadership model can contribute to the success of schools by improving the learning environment. Leadership refers to a situation that enables children to have a better learning environment by making achievements and developments in school activities.

This study aims at evaluating the extent to which Participatory Leadership Model (PLM) has been implemented within the education system in Saudi Arabia and its contribution to the success of the same. The researcher will make use of information that will be obtained from key stakeholders, such as, education counsellors that will be required to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the leadership model within the Saudi education context. The success of the education institutions are evaluated primarily by the national level of literacy and by the ability of students to integrate and contribute to the society’s development (Bush, 2003). The views of educational counselors will guide this research and the subsequent evaluation of the data because they are the key stakeholders.

Research Background

School leadership represents an effective team performance that comprises individuals who work towards defining team goals and to structure and develop the team to accomplish its goal. The conduct or the responsibility of a modern leader differs from the same roles in a traditional team set up. Thus, the challenges in leadership influence the performance of a team, as well as, the changes that occur in the team. Evolving leadership styles continually deviate from the traditional autocratic leader to a leader who is more involved and embraces consultation with other team members.

Leadership in schools has not been spared from this shift. Today’s school leaders are expected not only to oversee the general maintenance of the facilities, advise on financial management but also to create a rich learning environment for students and staff within their institutions (Barth, 2001). This environment should enable students to fully explore and exploit their academic potential. On the other hand, the ideal environment is the one, which allows team members to share their expertise and take part in decision-making through an open dialogue. Moreover, a school leader should be able to convey the message of shared responsibility between parents and teachers (Gronn, 2003). Thus, the aim of this study is to evaluate the extent to which leaders in the educational institutions of Saudi Arabia have been able to implement the tenets of Participatory Leadership Model (PLM) and the challenges faced by the leaders in the education sector (Bush, 1999).

Research Problems

Leadership is critical in the development of education in every country. However, in Saudi Arabia, this valuable role of leadership is not given priority. In addition, the government does not give incentives to those who would engage in the development of plans and goals that will help in attaining quality education. Therefore, school administrators have little input in the generation of quality education as they operate under the General Administration of Education in all the provinces of Saudi Arabia. The centralized power set up as well as powerless school heads is a big problem. This is because there is a likelihood of destabilizing the learning process. It also opens the way for incompetence, thus leading to minimal respect for school personnel and other stakeholders. The challenge facing the Saudi Arabian system is the lack of grasping the role of school heads and the necessary qualifications that they should have. There is little knowledge on the role of Participatory Leadership Model and how it ought to be structured for success within the Saudi Arabia schools.

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Research Objectives

This research aims to measure the extent to which the tenets of the Participatory Leadership Model have been applied within the Saudi Arabia context. The specific research objectives are:

  1. Establish a leadership model that is implemented within the education sector in Saudi Arabia.
  2. Evaluate the involvement level of the education counselors in the decision-making process, in their institutions.
  3. Evaluate the current model in use and compare it to the Participatory Leadership Model (PLM).
  4. Evaluate how the Participatory Leadership Model can fit the education industry in Saudi Arabia effectively.
  5. Establish cultural and social aspects that are unique to Saudi Arabian education institutions. Evaluate the dynamics between society, culture and the education industry in Saudi Arabia.

Research Questions

This study seeks to inquire how successful is the Participatory Leadership Model about the Saudi Arabia education sector. Progressively, the research will answer the following questions:

  1. How is the leadership model employed within the Saudi Arabia education sector?
  2. How do education counsellors incorporate Participatory Leadership Model (PLM) in decision-making processes of their institutions?
  3. How does the leadership model in use compare to the Participatory Leadership Model?
  4. What Participatory Leadership Model can successfully be adapted for use within the Saudi Arabia education sector?
  5. How does societal and cultural diversity influence educational leadership in Saudi Arabia?
  6. Which are some of the specific challenges facing leadership in the education industry of Saudi Arabia?
  7. To what extent can the Participatory Leadership Model counter the challenges experienced in the educational sector?

Research Hypothesis

  1. There is a specific model of leadership in use within the Saudi Arabian education sector.
  2. Education counselors are fully integrated into the decision-making processes of the Saudi Arabian education sector.
  3. The Participatory Leadership Model can be successfully adapted for use within the Saudi Arabian education sector.
  4. Cultural and social diversities exist, and they are critical determinants of the success of any leadership model employed within the Saudi Arabian education sector.
  5. The Participatory Leadership Model offers problem-solving avenues aimed at overcoming established challenges.

Significance of the study

Past studies conducted in the field of education in Saudi Arabia have primarily focused on syllabus expansion with only a few remarking on the place of leadership within the Saudi Arabian education sector. The proposed research will form an essential link between the existing studies and provide valuable insight that can be incorporated in improving the education sector as a whole or by particular institutions. The proposed research will also serve as a valuable yardstick to industry players wishing to revitalize decision making within their institutions. It will provide an insight on how leadership is perceived and how decision-making can be more inclusive. Moreover, the proposed study will contribute to the existing body of literature and enhance further research work to build the theory.

Literature Review

Leadership in an educational context influence the quality of instructions provided to students in school. Schoolteachers perceive the behaviors of a leader to be appropriate in order to enhance their growth in commitment, and the willingness to be innovative (Bush, 2000). Thus, leadership can be defined as a social issue that requires leaders to assess and provide solutions to any challenge that can have detrimental impacts on the school system or impede the achievement of organizational goals. Thus, leadership is a channel that links teams to their broader working environments (Gamage, 2009). Participatory Leadership Model holds the view that the behavior of a leader determines the success of the entire education system.

The role of a leader in an educational system is to ensure that the institution delivers high quality learning. Yukl (1994) points out that participatory leadership does not necessarily involve distributing leadership but rather it can be limited to consulting with one’s non-leader colleagues or to engage them in joint decision making. Sergiovanni (1984) posits that the importance of the participatory Leadership depends on its ability to bond staff together. The result of this will be easing of the pressures placed on leaders and through team collaboration rather than competition amongst the staff. The concept of collective decision-making allows staff to own the decisions made hence making implementation easier. This is based on the notion that many people are more committed to roles when they take part in appropriate decision-making (Miskel and Hoy, 2005). The model also allows for the involvement of multiple stakeholders. In the educational context, it gives a chance for the collaboration of parents, teachers, and government education officials in the process of policy formulation and implementation (Mulford, 2008). Participatory leadership gives rise to numerous ideas thus expanding the avenues available to a team for progress. Through discussions and brainstorming sessions, a particular problem is assessed by different minds and thus the range of solutions is as varied as the staff representation. These varying viewpoints also act as a mechanism for detecting short falls of proposed solutions thus preventing costly implementation errors (Miskel and Hoy, 2005).

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Participatory Leadership allows staff members to develop their knowledge through specialization because the model utilizes particular staff strengths for overall success. It fosters confidence and builds trust amongst staff. Participatory leadership also fosters staff morale (Leithwood and Day, 2007). Participatory leadership facilitates group discussion aimed at understanding the question, dissecting and suggesting possible avenues for solving the problem. Ultimately, the leader takes the decision on the applicable solution. In heralding this era as the golden age in learning, Mulford (2008) lists the prerequisites for achieving success in school leadership as;

  1. Ensuring that schools provide high quality teaching to the students
  2. That parents are engaged in the child’s learning and progress,
  3. That all levels require excellent leadership

Successful leadership ensures harmony amongst these three factors enabling teachers, parents and students to unite and together create a golden age for learning and schooling (Mulford, 2008). Successful leadership in the education sector is of utmost importance the world over because education forms the building blocks for successful nation building. The education sector is entrusted with the mandate of grooming future generations in order to equip them with the skills necessary for the realization of a nation’s development goal. Key focus on leadership of learning institutions is, therefore, of utmost importance, in identifying the appropriate leadership style or to ensure success is a continuous endeavor (Leithwood and Day, 2007).

Research Methodology

This research proposes to use a combination of primary and secondary sources. The library and field research will be combined to gather vital information and data relevant. In the library research, the main objective will be to gather data on historical trends and policies enacted within the Saudi Arabian education industry. This will be further aided by a study of data relating to literacy and enrolment levels with the purpose of assessing the success of the leadership model in use at each period in time. Field research will be conducted through the use of written questionnaires and will seek to measure both facts and opinions of a cross section of educational counsellors within Saudi Arabia. The preference of written questionnaire over oral interviews is to allow the respondents’ time to formulate their answers and to enable an expanded sample population. The target group in this study is the educational counsellors within the Saudi Arabian education sector. The choice of this group is due to the prominent role they play as the link between the student population and the institutional leadership, and between parents and the institutional leadership. They quality of leadership substantially affects their ability to deliver and consequently affects the quality of education offered within the Saudi Arabian education sector.

Data Collection

Obtaining relevant information in this study will be vital to enhance accuracy as well as a sufficient representation. Questionnaires will be distributed to 500 counsellors at different levels of education. The questionnaires will be used to obtain data that are relevant to the education system in Saudi Arabia. Thus, questionnaires will be made available to the counsellors in the five levels of the education system, namely:

  1. Pre-school level – Nurseries and kindergartens
  2. Elementary level – Six grades for ages 6-12
  3. Intermediate level – Three grades for ages 12-15
  4. Secondary level – Three grades for ages 15-18
  5. Post Secondary and university level

The research tends to be inclusive, and care will therefore be exercised to ensure an equal representation of opinions and views.

Data Analysis

The aim of analysis in this research is to relate theories on the efficacy of PLM with factual experiences within the Saudi Arabian education sector. In order to maintain objectivity, accuracy and truth of the data collected, strict qualitative analysis are going to be conducted. Presentation shall be done with the help of visual aids such as data tabulation, charts and diagrams to enhance clarity.

Research Schedule

Figure 1: Research schedule.

PhD Thesis Name
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept
Literature Review X X
Develop project proposal X X
Formulate Questionnaires X X X
Data collection X X
Data analysis X X X
Report Writing X X X
Project Completion & presentation X


Barth, R. (2001). Learning by heart. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Print.

Bush, T. (2003). Theories of educational leadership and management, 3rd edition. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Bush, T., (1999). Theories of educational leadership and management. Toronto: Springer.

Bush, T., (2000). Educational leadership and management: Theory, policy, and practice. South African Journal of Education, vol 27, no. 3, pp. 391–406.

Gamage, D., T. (2009). Leading and managing the 21st century schools for improved student performance. Australia: McGraw-Hill.

Gronn, P., (2003). The new work of educational leaders: Changing leadership practice in an era of school reform, London: Paul Chapman.

Leithwood, K., & Day C. (2007). Successful school leadership, London: Sage Publications.

Miskel, C., G., & Hoy, W., K. (2005). Educational administration: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Mc Graw Hill. Print.

Mulford, B. (2008). The leadership challenge: Improving learning in schools. Victoria: ACER Press.

Sergiovanni, T., J. (1984). Handbook for effective department leadership: Concepts and practices in today’s secondary schools. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Yukl, G., A. (1994). Leadership in organizations. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Print.

An Evaluation of Participatory Leadership Model Within the Educational Context
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