Integrative Leadership and Cross-Sector Reforms: High School Career Academy Implementation in an Urban District
Malin, Joel R.
Hackmann, Donald G.
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Purpose: This study analyzed leadership structures, processes, and practices that have enabled and constrained an ambitious career and college readiness reform within an urban school district. It was designed to discern how leaders worked across cross-sector boundaries to support district-wide high school career academy implementation. Research Methods: Case study methodology was applied to examine a long-standing cross-sector collaborative partnership that supports the district’s career academy reforms. Data were collected over 15 months through interviews, observations, and document analysis. Crosby and Bryson’s (2010) integrative leadership theoretical framework guided data collection and analyses. Findings: The integrative leadership framework was suitable for understanding the boundary-spanning leadership work that was occurring, involving school leaders, civic officials, and business members in leadership roles to support academy reforms. As expected, for example, system turbulence was key to the reform’s initiation, establishing legitimacy was arduous and important, and numerous facilitative structures were developed. Some nuances were also apparent. For instance, we noted the motivating power of the shared goal to enhance the relevance of student educational experiences, while business and civic leaders were particularly interested in developing student employment skills. We noted formidable political opposition and the development of a new, cross-sector power structure. Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice: Current educational theory is inadequate to explain or inform educational leaders who increasingly are entering into cross-sector collaborations. Scholars should seek to address this issue by prioritizing this line of research. Practitioners can benefit from insights gained by applying the integrated leadership framework to cross-sector initiatives.
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