I fjärran blir fjällen blå: En komparativ studie av isländska och svenska grundskolor samt sex fallstudier om närhet som förutsättning för pedagogiskt ledarskap

Haukur Viggósson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The thesis focuses on the elementary school principal’s formal responsibility and role in connection with his spatial and psycho-social nearness to the teachers. On one hand it is a comparison between schools in Sweden and Iceland, while on the other hand it is a case study of the principal’s leadership in several different school organisations. These studies are based on the theory that even if the school is a bureaucratic organisation it is characterised by loose couplings between hierarchical levels within the school as well as its system and that the principal’s understanding of how the teachers perform their work is of vital importance for successful leadership, as well as close contact between the principal and the teachers. The empirical study is divided into two parts: One that is mostly based on quantitative analysis of the material collected from all the schools in question (42 schools). And a case study of the relations between principals and teachers in six schools, three in each country. The quantitative analysis indicates that the principals’ problems of leadership are mainly based on three factors: (1) the administrative burden has had the effect that the principal has not managed to have full control over school work, (2) the principal has too many subordinates and/or geographically too large a sphere of responsibility, so that he is forced to formalise all communications with his teachers and must, therefore, depend on others in carrying out his orders along with indirect and/or informal information about the teachers, (3) the principal’s approach to his role and his teachers’ role as well, for instance reluctance to interfere in the work of his teachers, his apprehension of the teachers’ resistance to direct inspection of their work and/or his regard for the teachers as professionals who are entitled to work on their own. The case studies show that in schools led by principals to whom the teachers experience nearness, there has developed a formal system of communication which goes beyond the school legislation. The teachers’ participation in, as well as their potential to affect the administration of the school and its policy seems to increase in proportion to the nearness. In the schools where there is moderate or little nearness it appears that the aforementioned factors do not function as well as in the ‘nearness-schools’. In these schools communication has most often become quite formalistic; the teachers have had less say in the decision-making process, and thereby their impact on school-management has been less than in the 'nearness schools'.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Educational Sciences
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1998 Feb 26
ISBN (Print)91-22-01785-2
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 1998-02-26
Time: 10:15
Place: N/A

External reviewer(s)

Name: Stålhammar, Bert
Title: Docent
Affiliation: Högskolan i Örebro


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Educational Sciences


  • Pedagogy and didactics
  • principal’s-teachers relationship.
  • compulsory schools
  • personnel leadership
  • School administration
  • school organisation
  • Pedagogik
  • didaktik

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