The Effect of Principal’s Distributed Leadership Practice on Students’ Academic Achievement: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Ghirmai Jambo Daniel, Hongde Lei


Distributed leadership as a new scenario of educational leadership has become a popular topic in the contemporary world. Many notable researchers and members of the discourse community have contributed significantly to its development. However, little attention has paid to its effectiveness. Hence, the main purpose of this article is to analyze the existing evidence for the effect of principal’s leadership practice on students’ academic achievement from a distributed perspective. To do so, a systematic search of academic databases was conducted and 68 references spanning from the year 2001 to 2018 were selected and systematically reviewed. Due consideration was given to their concepts of distributed leadership practice, principal’s role, and students’ academic achievement. The findings of this article show that distributed leadership has positive and indirect effect on students’ academic achievement and the role of principal is indispensable. Nevertheless, there is little emperical evidence, a lack of universal accepted patterns and best practices of distributed leadership which strains further investigation. On the basis of evidence currently available, it seems reasonable to recommend scholars, policy developers, and practitioners to recognize the role of principal on distributed leadership and its best practices. 

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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