Researching the principalship in the African context: a critical literature review

  • Lingesperie Naidoo
  • Jaqueline Naidoo
  • Nithi Muthukrishna
Keywords: principalship, African context, critical literature review, school leadership


The paper provides a critical review of 19 empirical studies on the leadership of the school principal, conducted between 2009 and 2014 in the African context. Two questions guided the review: How can current research on the principalship in the African context be characterized? What are areas for future research on the issue? Applying an inductive analysis, this article contends that the studies reviewed focussed on issues that can be categorized into five themes: professional development; shared leadership; gender and leadership; critical competences and practices of the principal; and identities and subjectivities of the school principal. This analysis builds on educational leadership research by identifying contributions and limitations of this body of research, and providing recommendations for future research.

Keywords: principalship; African context; critical literature review; school leadership


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9231