School leadership theories and the Malaysia Education Blueprint: Findings from a systematic literature review

Tony Bush, Suriani Abdul Hamid, Ashley Ng, Maria Kaparou

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the Malaysian literature on three prominent leadership models (instructional, distributed and transformational), linked to a major educational reform initiative captured in the Ministry of Education’s Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB). Design/methodology/approach: The approach is a systematic review of all relevant Malaysian literature, in English and Bahasa Malaysia, on instructional, distributed and transformational leadership and alternative terms linked to these models. Findings: The findings show that there is an emerging literature on these leadership models and their prevalence in Malaysian schools but that they have been interpreted in ways that are distinctive to the highly centralised Malaysian context. For example, instructional leadership is prescribed, so there is some evidence of its practice, notably in respect of monitoring. Similarly, distributed leadership is allocative, rather than emergent, as suggested in western literature. Research limitations/implications: The findings show that, while research on these models is emerging, much more research is required to establish whether and how leadership practice in Malaysia differs from that outlined in the normative western literature. Practical implications: There is emerging evidence to suggest that instructional and distributed leadership, if enacted carefully, can have a positive impact on student outcomes. Social implications: The leadership models were developed in western, mainly decentralised, contexts, and there are clear implications for how such models might apply in highly centralised cultures, such as that prevailing in Malaysia. Originality/value: This is believed to be the first systematic review of the Malaysian literature on school leadership models, linked to the MEB. It is also distinctive in including both English language and Bahasa Malaysia sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1265
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Distributed leadership
  • Instructional leadership
  • Malaysia Education Blueprint
  • Transformational leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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