Transformational Leadership and Teacher Engagement in an International Context

Transformational Leadership and Teacher Engagement in an International Context

Chan Kyun Park (Asia Leadership Center, South Korea), Doo Hun Lim (University of Oklahoma, USA), and Boreum Ju (University of Illinois, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9948-9.ch002
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Leadership and teacher engagement are important and meaningful themes for teacher development. Culture has also been considered an important variable in cross-cultural research for a long time. This chapter proposes that the behavior of transformational leaders in schools will positively influence teachers' engagement in their jobs and schools. This chapter also suggests three propositions with relation to Korean culture values as moderators. Specifically, the relationship between transformational leadership and teacher engagement will be stronger when followers more strongly perceive power distance, harmony, and informal social ties. The review and integration of this comprehensive literature review provides significant implications for researchers studying teacher engagement and school improvement.
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A recent review of the literature indicates that transformational leadership is one of the key factors that critically influences teachers’ motivation and teaching performance (Bass, 1985; Kark, Shamir, & Chen, 2003). Several researchers have identified the fact that a leader’s behavior affects the followers’ thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors through time spent interacting within school settings, and thus successfully leads to achieving educational and school goals (Bass, 1985, 1990; Podsakoff, MacKensie, Moorman, & Fetter, 1990). Due to the importance of transformational leadership, most organizations - including private companies, public organizations, and schools - invest considerable resources in leadership development (Ardichivili & Manderscheid, 2008), so research on leadership has become one of the most popular areas of teacher education and development.

Engaged teachers give their schools competitive advantages (Rich, Lepine, & Crawford, 2010). Therefore, school principals expect all teachers to become fully engaged in teaching activities and student services. However, contrary to these expectations, many teachers globally are not engaged. For example, according to Aon Hewitt’s 2013 survey (Hewitt, 2014) of more than 7 million employees in 155 countries around the world, only 22% of employees worldwide were highly engaged and 39% of employees worldwide were not engaged. This high number of “not engaged” employees is good evidence that researchers must examine not only workplace employee issues but also teacher engagement issues. Because of this growing concern about employee engagement, school leaders’ interest in teacher engagement has gained considerable popularity since Kahn’s first study on engagement in 1990 (Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002; Rich et al., 2010).

Along with engagement, school administrators’ leadership is another key factor which has critically influenced teacher performance (e.g., Bass, 1985; Burn, 1978; Kark et al., 2003). Specifically, the leaders play a critical role in influencing followers’ thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors by spending time with the followers in school settings, and thus successfully achieving the ultimate educational goals (Bass, 1985, 1990; Podsakoff et al., 1990). Due to the importance of leadership, most schools invest the largest percentage of their budgeted training and development allocation in leadership development (Rivera & Paradise, 2006; Rossmiller, 1988), and research on leadership has become one of the most popular areas in the field of teacher education and development (Meister, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Availability: Having the physical, emotional, and psychological resources necessary for the completion of work.

Power Distance: The extent to which an individual accepts the unequal distribution of power in institutions and organizations.

Engagement: The concurrent expression of one’s preferred self and the promotion of connection to others. It refers to an energetic state of involvement with personally fulfilling activities that enhance one’s sense of professional efficacy.

Meaningfulness: A feeling that one’s work is worthwhile and is accompanied by a sense of value in one’s accomplishments at work.

Informal Social Tie: Voluntary associations and interactions such as lunch groups, professional organizations, and social outings, which did not necessarily have explicit authority of the organization.

Safety: The ability to recognize one’s preferred self without fearing “negative consequences” to self-image, status, or career.

Transformational Leadership: A process of investing followers’ commitment to organizational goals and objectives and then motivating followers to achieve those goals and objectives. A leading guidance for subordinates through individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence.

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