Ethics Based Decision Making by Educational Leaders

Authored by: Paul T. Begley

Handbook of Data-Based Decision Making in Education

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  April  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415965033
eBook ISBN: 9780203888803
Adobe ISBN: 9781135890841


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Research on school principals’ valuation processes (Begley & Johansson, 1998), as well as earlier research conducted on administrative problem-solving processes by Leithwood and Steinbach (1995), demonstrate that administrators tend to consciously employ ethics as a guide to action relatively infrequently and under particular conditions. Ethics based postures tend to be relevant to certain types of administrative decision processes and not always considered by school leaders as an appropriate basis for decision making in other administrative situations, particularly those occurring in culturally diverse contexts or where accountability is a major consideration (Begley & Johansson, 1998). The circumstances where ethics tend to surface are situations of high stakes urgency, when consensus is impossible, when responding to unprecedented situations, and for certain hot-topic social issues that tend to escalate debate to a point where people seek refuge within an ethical posture. These findings appear to be consistent across the practices of school leaders in several countries. Ethics are culturally derived norms and if the context for leadership action is multicultural there can be issues associated with shared interpretations of ethical postures grounded in the experience of one culture and not another.

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