Effective Leadership and Implementation of Change in Schools

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Effective leadership is an important element in the success of schools seeking to implement change (Calabrese, 2002). Anderson and Dexter (2005) reported on the analysis of data from the 1998 Teaching, Learning, and Computing survey of more than 800 schools in the USA and concluded that "although technology infrastructure is important, for educational technology to become an integral part of a school, technology leadership is even more necessary" (p. 74). Without the support of school leaders the educational potential of information and communications technology may not be realized. They play various roles such as change agent, lifelong learner, main supporter, and resource provider in relation to ICT implementation in schools (Han, 2002). If principals want to lead effectively their school in technology integration, they should embrace technology and realize the role that technology can play in the teaching-learning process. In fact, "it is difficult to imagine a leader who does not use technology trying to convince teachers that it is important" (Cafolla & Knee, 1995, P.3). Therefore, principals need to understand the capacities of the new technologies, to have a personal proficiency in their use, and be able to promote a school culture which encourages exploration of new techniques in teaching, learning and management (Schiller, 2003).

According to Albirini (2006a), access to computer resources has often been one of the most important barriers for the integration of technology in both developed and developing countries. Norris, Sullivan, Poirot and Soloway (2003) reported on the analysis of data from the snapshot survey of more than 4,000 K-12 schools in the USA and concluded that there was a significant and substantive correlation between level of access to computer and level of computer use. Also, Rogers (2003) stated that the perceived attributes of an innovation are one of the important factors in explaining the rate of adoption of an innovation. A large amount of the variance in the rate of adoption of innovations, from 49 to 87 percent, is explained by five attributes: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability (Rogers, 2003). The five attributes refer respectively to: (1) the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes; (2) the extent to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experience, and needs of potential adopters; (3) the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use; (4) the extent to which the results of an innovation are visible to others; and (5) the degree to which an innovation is experimented with on a limited basis. Regarding the relationship between perceived innovation characteristics and computer technology adoption, Al-Gahtani (2003) conducted a quantitative research in Saudi Arabia and found that relative advantage, compatability and observability were positively related to the adoption of technology, whereas complexity was negatively correlated. Hence, innovations that are perceived by individuals as having greater relative advantage, compatability, observability, and less complexity will be adopted more rapidly than other innovations (Rogers, 2003).

Principals' attitudes toward ICT have been recognized as an important factor for the success of technology integration in education (Han, 2002; Mooij & Smeets, 2001; Rogers, 2003). Attitude is defined as a positive or a negative feeling associated with performing a specific behaviour (Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005). In fact, an individual will have a favorable attitude if he or she believes that the performance of the behaviour will lead to mostly positive results and vice-versa (Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005). Ajzen and Fishbein (2005) indicated that attitudes consist of three elements: affect, cognition, and behaviour. The affective element refers to the individual's emotional feelings or liking of a person or an object. The cognitive element refers to the person's knowledge about a person or an object. The behavioural element refers to the person's overt behaviour towards a person or an object. A complete description of attitude requires that all three components be assess by obtaining measures of all the three response classes (Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005).

Han (2002) conducted a case study on pre-school leaders' practices in the use of ICT and found that principals who have positive attitudes toward technology are very helpful and supportive in introducing these new technologies into the school. For example, they encourage their colleagues to have ICT training, equip the school with sufficient computers and ensure staff has access to relevant technology. Apart from that, Liaw (2002) stated that no matter how capable the technology is, the effective implementation of technology depends upon users' positive attitudes towards the technology. According to Noraini Idris et al. (2007), individuals with positive attitudes will have positive feelings about people and situations; have a sense of purpose, excitement, and passion; approach problems in a creative manner; make the best out of every situation; realize that attitude is a choice; feel that they have control of their thoughts; and feel that they are making a contribution through their work. Therefore, principals who have positive attitudes toward ICT feel more contented using it and regularly incorporate it into their tasks (Kersaint, Horton, Stohl & Garofalo, 2003).

According to Rogers (2003), innovation-decision process consists of five steps which are knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. These five steps usually follow each other in a time-ordered manner. Knowledge is the first stage of the successful adoption of computer technologies and it is essential for other steps in the innovation-decision process. If principals do not have enough competent in computer use, they cannot be expected to adopt computer technologies into their instructional and administrative tasks. Without the knowledge and skill of computer technology, principals might have a high level of uncertainty that influence their opinions and beliefs about the innovation (Rogers, 2003). In line with this idea, Felton (2006) stated that competence is a key to the use of computers by principals on a daily basis. In fact, competence in operating a computer and in utilizing software may improve the quality and efficiency of administrative performance in schools. Improved quality could lead to improved decision-making. In order to achieve high levels of principal's competence in ICT, there is a need to provide training, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a great deal of literature evidence to suggest that effective training is crucial if principals are to use ICT effectively in their work (Kirkwood, 2000). If training is inadequate or inappropriate, then principals will not be sufficiently prepared, and perhaps not sufficiently confident, to make full use of technology. Hence, lack of principal's competence and lack of quality training for principals can be barriers to principals' use of ICT.

Many technology experts have indicated that the integration of ICT in education should occur in the light of the cultural conditions of the country and the prevailing school culture (Albirini, 2006b; Govender & Govender, 2009). In fact, cultural barriers, either societal or organizational, are very important among the barriers to the adoption of technology. Societies and organizations can overcome most of the technical barriers through different means of support, but cultural barriers are harder to deal with. It is widely accepted that culture, within a society or an organization, shapes individuals' perceptions of innovations. In the field of education, it has been noticed that principals' reactions to technology innovations are mediated by their cultural perceptions (Felton, 2006). According to Rogers (2003), a cultural perception is a very general idea of social system norms. Also, it refers to the cultural suitability of computers (Thomas, 1987). Furthermore, Albirini (2006a) carried out a study examining the factors relating to the teachers' attitudes toward ICT. He collected evidence from high school English teachers about their perceptions of computer attributes, cultural perceptions, computer competence, and computer access. The sample consisted of 63 male and 251 female teachers. The results showed that computer attributes, cultural perceptions, and computer competence are factors that explain the greatest amount of variance in computer attitudes. Also, he stated that cultural perceptions toward different computer-related technologies are key factors related to both the initial acceptance of these technologies as well as future behaviour regarding their usage. Similarly, Lee, Choi, Kim and Hong, (2007) conducted a study on the relationship between users' cultural profiles and technology adoption in the context of the mobile Internet. Their findings of large-scale on-line surveys in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan indicate that cultural factors have a significant influence on users' adoption perceptions of mobile Internet services. So, they concluded that cultural differences are a contributing factor in the adoption of technology, particularly in third world countries.

According to Flanagan and Jacobsen (2003), leadership plays a key role in the success of technology utilization in education. Thomas (2001) stated that there is a strong link between educational technology and school leadership. Leadership style is exhibited by the leader could help or hinder technology infusion (Flanagan & Jacobsen, 2003; Thomas, 2001). One of the best styles of leadership that can change and transform individuals is transformational leadership (Northouse, 2001). Transformational leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality (Bass & Riggio, 2006). In other words, transformational leadership is a process that both the manager and followers should change themselves (Northouse, 2001). Although the transformational leader plays an essential role in precipitating change, followers and leaders are inextricably bound together in the transformation process (Northouse, 2001). This type of leadership is becoming more and more important to organizations, as workforces become more diverse, technology improves and international competition heightens.

Transformational leadership is comprised of four distinct dimensions: charismatic leadership or idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Idealized influence (attributed) demonstrates attributes of principals that motivate respect and pride and display a sense of power and confidence; idealized influence (behaviour) refers to the principals' behaviour to communicate values, purpose, and importance of mission; inspirational motivation refers to leaders that motivate and inspire others by challenging them to exert effort; Intellectual stimulation stimulates followers' efforts to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways; and individualized consideration focuses on development and mentoring of followers and attends to individual needs(Bass & Riggio, 2006).

Beatty and Lee (1992, as cited in Thite, 2000) conducted several case studies of the implementation of CAD/CAM systems in numerous British and Canadian companies in an effort to investigate the linkage between leadership and technological change in organizations. Through semistructured interviews and using a critical incident approach to assessing leadership abilities, the researchers tracked managerial involvement throughout the implementation process. The outcome of their qualitative research suggests that a transformational approach to leadership is likely to be more effective in overcoming barriers to change than a transactional leadership approach that concentrates on technical problem solving to the neglect of people and organizational issues.

According to Burns (2003), transactional leadership involves exchanging one thing for another. In fact, the effective transactional leaders are expert in giving and taking. This style is useful for stable situations but is less useful for organizations that are faced to environmental turbulence or rapid change (Kirkbride, 2006). Transactional leadership was measured by contingent reward and management-by-exception (active and passive). Contingent reward leaders explain the expectations of followers and the compensation they will receive if they meet their performance expectations. Management-by-exception-active leaders attend to followers' mistakes and failures to meet standards and management-by-exception-passive leaders react to correct action after problems become serious enough (Bass & Riggio, 2006).

Regarding the importance of transformational leadership as an influence on principals' use of technology, Christopher (2003) conducted a study at the University of Virginia. A self-designed instrument was used in this study. Leadership items were taken from Bass and Avolio's Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Leader Form. Surveys were sent to a random sample of 397 principals throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and 185 principals participated in the survey. Her analysis indicated that the overall extent that principals used decision support technologies was significantly correlated with their perceptions of all four transformational leadership behaviors (individual influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration). Also, she suggested that educational leadership programs should be provided to train principals to use technology as a management tool. If principals do not use technology on a consistent basis; the principal should not expect the faculty to use technology regularly. Modeling the use of technology provides an affective method for exposing teachers to new strategies and demonstrating to the staff that it is acceptable to take risks and make mistakes, without the fear of retribution (Dawon & Rakes, 2003)